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(a) The temporary communism of the early
chapters of Acts reminds us of the communism of
the Essenes. But the Christians were a brother-
hood, not an Order, and the surrender of property
was a voluntary act, not necessary for recognition as
a brother (Ac 5 4 ). The Christian communism admits
of easy explanation from the belief in the almost
immediate Return of the Lord, (b) Celibacy is
recommended as a 'counsel of perfection' in 1 Co
7 1 - 8 . It is clear from v. 29 that this too depends
on the belief in the nearness of the end. (c) The
Essenes substituted a sacramental for a sacrificial
worship. The importance of this has very seldom
been appreciated, though it is a point which makes
the Order of great interest in the nistory of religion.
Apart from their multitudinous ordinary lustra-
tions, there was the solemn initiatory ablution at
the end of the first novitiate. It cleansed outwardly
and inwardly and made the ordinary man an
Essene (so Bousset, Religion des Judentums, p. 436).
Here we have a parallel with Christian baptism
and baptismal regeneration. In their common meal

we have a parallel with the Christian love-feast,
if not with the Eucharist. We quote Josephus's
description :

'They assemble together in one place, and having clothed
themselves in white veils, they bathe their bodies in cold water.
After this purification, they assemble in an apartment of their
own, into which it is not allowed to any stranger to enter . . .
They enter as if it were some holy temple, and sit down quietly.
. . . The priest prays before meat, and none may eat before
prayer is offered, and when they have made their meal, he again
prays over them. . . . And when they begin and when they
end, they praise God. . . . Nor is there ever any clamour or
disturbance . . . which silence appears to outsiders as some
tremendous mystery ' (BJ n. viii. 6 ; cf . Ant. xvui. i. 6).

As noted above, novices were not admitted to
the Table ; similarly Christian catechumens retired
before the celebration of the Eucharist. It must
be admitted that here we have a striking resem-
blance, but to conclude that the Church owed its
sacraments to the Essenes is a rash proceeding.
The love-feast has many other parallels elsewhere,
and could grow up independently of any of them.
Any association of men will naturally develop
something similar. Baptism, too, is no rare phe-
nomenon. We conclude that, while the parallel is
interesting, the Christian development cannot be
shown to be borrowed from Essenism, and is intel-
ligible without any reference to it.

Other resemblances have been noted (a list will
be found in HDB, art. 'Essenes'), but they are
trifling and unconvincing. The fact, e.g., that
Christians are admonished to obey them that have
the rule over them gives a point of resemblance to
the Essenes certainly, but also to every human as-
sociation that ever was organized on principles of
common sense. It is useless to draw out laborious
parallels of this sort. We may hold that the early
Church cannot be proved to have owed anything
to Essenism, and can be explained without it. On
the other hand, Essenism, in its super-Pharisaism,
its retirement from the world, its avoidance of the
Temple (cf. Ac 3 1 21 2 "), its views of the body, its
sun-worship and magic, is in sharpest contrast to
Christianity. Of the silence of the NT regarding
the Essenes there are only two possible explana-
tions. One is that Christianity is one with Essen-
ism a view we have rejected. The other is that
Essenism was so uninfluential, so entirely out of re-
lation to Christianity, or any active movement of
the time, that there was no occasion to mention
it. When we remember that Pliny knows of
Essenes only as inhabiting the desert shore of
the Dead Sea, we are confirmed in choosing this

5. Influence on heresies. If it is doubtful
whether the Church in her normal development
owed anything to Essenism, it is not doubtful that
its influence is discernible in the rise of a number
of heresies. Here too, however, its influence has
sometimes been exaggerated. It is highly question-
able whether Essenes have, or possibly could have,
any connexion with the 'weaker brethren' of
Romans or the errorists of Colossians. The
former, as seems indicated in Ro 15 7 , are probably
Gentiles given to the asceticism which was not un-
common in the heathen world at that time (A. C.
McGiffert, Christianity in the Apostol. Age, 1897,
p. 337). The latter, though scholars like Lightfoot
and Weiss regard them as clearly Essenic, are
really as likely to be Alexandrian as Palestinian
Jews (p. 368). According to all our authorities,
Essenes were confined to Palestine. We have
stated Pliny's view above ; Philo knew of them
in many towns and villages of Judaea; Josephus
knew them all through Palestine. The last two
authorities are obviously anxious to make the
most possible of the Essenes, and, had they had a
wider distribution, we may be sure we should have
been informed of it. The Essenes arrived at their



peculiarities by uniting heathen elements with
Judaism ; and wherever Jews came in touch with
like influences, similar results might be produced.
Leaving out the Roman and Colossian errorists as
doubtfully Essenic, to say the least, we proceed to
those heretical movements where, with great pro-
bability, Essenism is influential.

(a) The Essenes are of undoubted interest for the
history of Gnosticism (q.v.). They may be called
'the Gnostics of Judaism.' Their fondness for
speculation on cosmogony, their allegorizing of
the OT, of which Philo speaks, their dualistic
views, which involve a depreciation of matter,
their magic and their esoteric books all connect
them with Gnosticism. And they are important
as showing that in essence there was a pre-Chris-
tian Gnosticism, (b) They influenced those Jew-
ish Christians who came into contact with them
(see art. EBIONISM). The Ebionites, as described
by Epiphanius, show traces of Essenic influence in
their asceticism and frequent baptisms. The Elke-
saites are Essenized Ebionites. Epiphanius (IJcer.
xix. 2, xx. 3) identifies Elkesaites with Sampsceans
(sun- worshippers), and calls them a remnant of the
Essenes who had adopted a debased form of Chris-
tianity, (c) The history of the Essenes after the
Fall of Jerusalem is obscure. They suffered severely,
and endured bravely, in the persecution, and pro-
bably their Order was broken up (Lightfoot, Col.
p. 169). Many would attach themselves to the
neighbouring Christians, with whom they would
find several affinities, and carry elements of their
Essenism with them. In the Palestinian Judceo-
Christian heresies, then, we may, with practical
certainty, trace Essenic influence.

6. Conclusion. The whole subject of Essenism
is wrapped in obscurity : the Essenes remain, and
will remain, the 'great enigma of Jewish history.'
The obscurity is all the more tantalizing because
we know enough to perceive that for the history of
religion the Essenes are of surpassing interest and
importance. In them the Western world saw for
the first time a monastic Order and a sacramental
worship. In them, too, Gnosticism began its
career. These are three points of vast importance.
The 'regions beyond Jordan' are of special in-
terest for the syncretism of which they were the
scene. There, first Judaism and later Christianity
were unable to maintain themselves in their original
form. In a general way, we can understand the
process of this syncretism. In that region Perso-
Babylonian, and even perhaps Buddhistic, influ-
ences, pressing westward, impinged upon Judaism,
and Essenism is the most prominent of the various
amalgams that resulted. In the more obscure
Sampsseans, Nasaraeans, Hemerobaptists, etc., we
have, no doubt, other examples. And as it was
with trans- Jordan ic Judaism, so it was with trans-
Jordanic Judaistic Christianity. It found in
Essenism and its cognates what they had found in
eastern heathenism an influence too strong to be
resisted. But as to the precise details of both
syncretisms, we are left in ignorance, and nearly
every statement must begin with ' probably.' As
has been indicated, in estimating their influence on
Christianity, Catholic and heretical alike, we must
beware of the tendency to exaggerate it. Our
view is the Essenes had no appreciable influence
on the development of Catholic Christianity, but
in Judaeo-Christian heresies their influence is con-
siderable, while for the history of Gnosticism
they are of great interest.

LITERATURE. This is very abundant. We mention only P.
E. Lucius, Der Essenismug, 1881 ; J. B. Lightfoot, Colossians,
1876; E. Schurer, HJP n. ii. [1885] 188 ff. ; A. Hilgenfeld,
Ketzergeschichte des Urehrittentums, 1884; W. Bousset, Re-
ligion det Judentums im NT ZeitaUer, 1903 ; artt. in HDB,
SBi, JK, CB, and EBrU, where further Literature is mentioned.

W. D. NlVEN.
VOL. I. 24

' everlasting ' are employed in the AV of the NT
somewhat indiscriminately to render three Greek
words dtStos, aidiv (used adjectivally in genitive
plural), and aWvios. dtStos is found only in Ro I 20
and Jude 8 , AA r rendering ' eternal ' in the first case
and ' everlasting ' in the second. ' Eternal ' is the
translation of run altbvuv in Eph 3 11 , 1 Ti I 17 .
aiuvios is of very common occurrence ; but while
AV in most cases gives ' eternal,' it not infrequently
substitutes 'everlasting,' and sometimes does so,
apparently, for no other reason than to avoid the
repetition of the same English word (cf., e.g., Ac
13 46 with v. 48 ; Ro G 22 with v. 23 ). For dWioj (a con-
traction for ddStoj, fr. del 'ever') RV properly re-
serves ' everlasting.' For T&V altivuv it gives the
literal meaning ' of the ages.' For au&vun (fr. aWv)
it regularly gives ' eternal,' except in Philem 18 ,
where aitiviov is treated as an adverb and rendered
'forever.' 'Eternal' for al&vios is etymologically
correct, since Lat. ceternus (for ceviternus) conies
from CBVum, the digammated form of aluv, from
which al&vios is derived. Moreover, no better
English word can be suggested unless the trans-
literation 'seonian' could be accepted. None the
less, ' eternal ' is misleading, inasmuch as it has
come in English to connote the idea of ' endlessly
existing,' and thus to be practically a synonym for
'everlasting.' But this is not an adequate render-
ing of aldvios, which varies in meaning with the
variations of the noun aluiv, from which it comes.

The chief meanings of aluv in classical Greek are :
(1) a lifetime ; (2) an age or period ; (3) a period of
unlimited duration. In the LXX, which is largely
determinative for NT usage, at&v (usually repre-
senting Heb. c^iy) is employed with the same
variations as in the older Greek literature ; and
the length of time referred to must be determined
from the context. In some cases els rbv adwva,
refers to the duration of a single human life (Ex
19 9 21 6 ) ; in others it is applied to the length of a
dynasty (1 Ch 28 4 ), the lasting nature of an ordin-
ance (2 Ch 2 4 ), the national existence of Israel (2
Ch 9 s ), the perpetuity of the earth (Ec I 4 ), the en-
during character of God (Ps 9 7 ) and of the Divine
truth and mercy (117 a 118 1 ). Similarly alwvios is
applied to the ancient gates of Zion (Ps 24 7 ), to
certain Levitical ordinances (Lv 16 28 ' **), to the
covenants of God with men (Gn 9 16 17 7 , etc.), to the
Divine mercy (Is 54 8 ) and love (Jer 31 s ). Only
rarely do we find the word applied directly to God
Himself (Gn 21 38 , Is 40 28 ). Passing from the LXX,
we have to notice the bearing upon NT usage of
the distinction made in the later Jewish theology
(see Schurer, HJP II. ii. 133) between the present
age (njn a)ij?) and the coming or Messianic age
(N^n D^iy), a distinction which reappears in the NT
in the expressions & a'wv ofrro* ana 6 aluv 6 ^\\uv
or 6 tpxbfuvos.

Coming now to the NT with the previous history
of aiwv and aMvioj in view, we find that the terms
are still used as before with various connotations.
In 1 Co 8 18 , unless St. Paul is writing by way of pure
hyperbole, aldiv can refer only to his own lifetime.
In Ac 3 21 it refers to the age of prophecy. Its fre-
quent employment in the plural suggests that in
the singular the word denotes something less than
unending time ; while the phrases irpb TWV aiibvuv
(1 Co 2 7 ) and T& rf\ii ruv aitivtav (10 11 ) point to ages
that were conceived of, not as everlasting, but as
having a beginning and coming to an end. Even
the coming or Messianic alJsv, as contrasted with
the present time (Mk 10 80 , Eph l al , etc.), is not con-
ceived of by St. Paul as endless. In 2 P I 11 Christ's
Kingdom is described as aiuvios ; but St. Paul
anticipates a time when Christ shall deliver up
His Kingdom to God the Father (1 Co 15 24 ).

The use of the adjective is again similar to that




of the noun. Whether alwviov is treated as an ad-
verb or an adjective in Philein 1S , it is evident that
the meaning must be restricted to the lifetime of
Onesimus and Philemon. The xpoyoi oWwot of Ro
16 25 are the ages during which the mystery of the
gospel was kept secret, in contrast with the age of its
revelation. Those xpbvoi aiuvioi, moreover, are not
to be thought of as stretching backwards everlast-
ingly, as is proved by the irpb xp6t>wv o-luviwv of 2 Ti
I 9 , Tit I 2 . The aWvios 0e6s of Ro 16 26 carries with it
unquestionably the idea of everlastingness ; but it is
worth noting that this is the only occasion in the NT
when the term is applied to God, and that the dox-
ology in which it occurs is of doubtful genuineness.
It is when we come to consider the expression
fw?7 aluvios (cf. ffurypLa [He 5 9 ], Xi/7-/9w<rts [9 12 ], KX-rjpo-
o/j,La [v. 18 ]), which is of very frequent occurrence
in the Johannine and Pauline writings, together
with the contrasted conceptions trvp aluviov (Mt 18 8
25 41 , Jude 7 ), /c<5Xacrts alwvLos (Mt 2S 46 ), 6\e6pos aiuvios
(2 Th I 9 ), KpifM alwiov (He 6 2 ), that we find the
real crux of the difficulty of translating the term.
It has often been insisted that the meaning of the
word is the same in either case, and that if ' aeonian
fire ' is less than everlasting, ' aeonian life ' must
also be less. Sometimes this argument has been
met by the objection that aWvtos is not a quantita-
tive but a spiritual and qualitative term, express-
ing a kind rather than a length of being. That
the word is frequently so used in the Johannine
writings appears evident (e.g. Jn 17 s , 1 Jn 3 14 - ls 5 1S ) ;
and in the Pauline Epistles also we have various
examples of it.^ employment in a sense that is in-
tensive rather than extensive notably the equation
in 1 Ti 6 12 - 19 (RV) between ' eternal life ' and ' the
life which is life indeed.' And yet it must be ad-
mitted that the whole history of the term points
to the underlying idea of duration, and not of
duration only, but of a duration that is permanent.
With equal clearness, however, that history shows
that the permanence affirmed is not absolute, but
relative to the nature of the subject. When ap-
plied to the loving service of a Christian slave to
a Christian master, oWvioj denotes a permanence
as lasting as the earthly relation between master
and slave will permit. When used of the ages be-
fore the gospel was revealed, it means throughout
the whole length of those ages. When applied to
God or to the Spirit (He 9 14 ), it means as ever-
lasting as the Divine nature itself. And when we
come to ' eternal life ' on the one hand and ' eternal
fire ' or ' eternal destruction ' on the other, they
also must be rendered according to our conception
of the inherent nature of the thing referred to.
And many will hold that while good, as emanat-
ing from God, is necessarily indestructible, evil, as
contrary to the Divine nature and will, must even-
tually cease to be ' that God may be all in all '
(1 Co 15 28 ). ' ./Eonian fire,' therefore, may mean a
fire that goes on burning until it has burned itself
out; 'aeonian destruction,' a destruction that con-
tinues until there is nothing left to destroy. But
' aeonian life,' being life in Christ Jesus our Lord
(Ro G 23 ; cf. 1 Jn 5 11 ), must be as enduring as the
Divine immortality. If the spirit of life in Christ
Jesus dwells in us, nothing shall be able to separ-
ate us from the love of God (Ro 8 s - n - 85 - 39 ). See,
further, LIFE AND DEATH.

LITERATURE. S. D. F. Salmond, Christian Doctrine of
Immortality, Edinburgh, 1895, p. 649 ff. ; G. B. Stevens,
Theol. of NT, do. 1899, p. 224 ff., Christian Doctrine of Salva-
tion, do. 1905, p. 526 f. ; Expositor, 1st. ser. vii. [1878] 405-424,
3rd. ser. vi. [1887] 274-286, vii. [1888] 266-278 ; EBi ii. [1901]




ETHICS. It is proposed in the present article
not to discuss the vast subject of ethics in general,
but to attempt to ascertain what were the most
striking points in which the ethical ideas of the
Christians of the Apostolic Age differed from those
of earlier speculators on the subject.

1. Sources of information. All our first-hand
information is contained in the writings of the
NT and of the Apostolic Fathers. Indirectly the
works of later Christian authors, who treated the
subject more systematically, may throw some light
by way of inference on the conceptions of the Apos-
tolic Age : for instance, if the treatment of the
cardinal virtues by St. Augustine and others shows
a marked difference from the treatment found in
pre-Christian writers, it may perhaps be rightly
inferred that the difference is due to ideas which
already prevailed in the first generation of Chris-
tians. But inferences of this sort are precarious,
for it is hardly possible to ascertain accurately how
far the other influences which contributed to the
thought of the later writers were operative in the
earliest age ; and in any case it is probable that
later writings would not add anything of great
importance to the general outline, which is all that
is being attempted here. Attention will therefore
be confined to the contemporary documents. And
with respect to these, critical questions may be
ignored. The accuracy of the historical narrative
is not in question, and whatever may be the
authorship or the precise date of the documents
reviewed, they are all sufficiently early to reflect
ethical ideas which belong to the Apostolic Age,
and not those which belong to a later period.

2. General characteristics of ethical thought.
(1) Absence of systematic treatment. Ethical ques-
tions are constantly touched upon in the NT, but
always more or less in connexion with particular
cases as they arise, and never in connexion with a
complete and thought-out system. Here there is
a striking contrast with Greek philosophy. The
philosophers tried to find a rational basis for human
life in all its relations. In ethics they discussed
the question of the supreme good whether it was
knowledge, or pleasure, or virtue ; they classified
the virtues, and discussed in the fullest manner
their various manifestations. There is nothing of
this sort in the NT. The morality of the Jews,
again, was very different from that of the Greeks,
for the Jews took little interest in purely philo-
sophical problems ; but they also had a system,
and a very elaborate one, of law and of ceremonial
observance, with which their morality was closely
bound up. Although the Christians inherited so
much from the Jews, this system, after being, as
it were, raised to its highest power in the Sermon
on the Mount, was definitely set aside in the
Apostolic Age. And in the place of a system we
find an overpowering interest in certain historical
facts. The Synoptic Gospels are occupied with a
fragmentary narrative of the life of Christ, in
which a good deal of moral teaching is contained.
But it is such as arises incidentally from the facts
recorded in the narrative, and it is not presented
as part of a scheme of ethics. In the Fourth
Gospel there is something more nearly resembling
systematic moral discussion, but even here the
discourses arise out of a historical framework, and
the prevailing interest is not ethical but spiritual
and mystical. The Acts contains little but narra-
tive, and the teaching recorded in it centres almost
monotonously around facts. In the Epistles ethical
questions are constantly dealt with, but the pro-
blems are practical, and arise out of the circum-
stances of the time. This is not to say that in
these writings there is no new point of view, but
that ethics is nowhere treated in a complete and
systematic way, and that there appears to be no




consciousness on the part of the writers that they
are in possession of a new ethical theory or philo-
sophy. The difference, therefore, between pre-
Christian and Christian ethics does not consist in a
new theory or system. The subject was treated in
the Apostolic Age from the practical point of view.

(2) The moral ideal. A new element is, however,
introduced into ethics by that very concentration
upon a single historical life which has been noted
above. The ideal man had figured largely in
earlier ethical systems, but the ideal man of philo-
sophy had been entirely a creation of the imagina-
tion, and his actual existence never seems to have
been thought of as a practical possibility. Now,
however, an actual human life is put forward as a
model of perfection, and it is assumed without dis-
cussion that all ethical questions, as they may
happen to arise, may be, and must be, tested by

(3) The new life. There is, moreover, in the
consciousness of the Apostolic Age something more
potent than belief in a historical example. There
is a sense which pervades every writing of this time
that a new force has come into existence. It is not
necessary to insist upon the prominence in early
Christian teaching of the belief in the Resurrection.
The continued life and activity of the Person who
is the centre of all their thought were the greatest
of all realities to the early Christians. With it
was combined the belief in the continual indwelling
and inspiration of the Holy Spirit. And this seems
to explain the apparent indifference to ethical
theory which has been noted. For to the early
Christians ' outward morality is the necessary ex-
pression of a life already infused into the soul'
(Strong, Christian Ethics, p. 69). It is in this
respect that the Christian conception presents the
most marked contrast to pre-Christian thought.
There was a note of hopelessness in the moral
speculation of the Greeks. Even a high ideal was
a thing regarded as practically out of reach for
the mass of mankind. Plato looked upon the
ideal State as a necessary condition for the exercise
of the highest virtue, and its conception was a
wonderful effort of the philosophical imagination ;
but it was not considered possible. Even the
apparently practical conceptions of Aristotle re-
quire a complete reconstruction of society. The
Stoic philosophers abandoned this dream, and could
suggest nothing better than the withdrawal of the
wise man from all ordinary human interests. The
Neo-Platonist went further, and sought complete
severance from the world of sense. Jewish thought
was on different lines, but there was an even keener
sense of sin and failure, although this was redeemed
from despair by the hope of a Messianic Age which
would redress all the evils of the existing order.
Above all there was no sufficient solution, and
among the Greeks little attempt at a solution, of
the problem of how the human will was to be
sufficiently strengthened to do its part in the
realization of any ideal. In the writings of the
Apostolic Age, on the other hand, there is found
not only a belief in a perfect ideal historically
realized, but also a belief in an indwelling power
sufficient to restore all that is weak and depraved
in the human will.

(4) The evangelical virtues. In the NT there is
no regular discussion of the nature of virtue, and
no formal classification of virtues. The Greek
philosophers, while they differed in their views
of what constituted the chief good, were agreed
in accepting what are known as the four cardinal
virtues prudence, temperance, fortitude, and
justice as the basis of their classification. This
division, from the time of Plato onwards (and

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