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EARLYCHURCH
-^CCASSICS^




^^V^^ OF PS/^^
JAN 9 1924



BR A5 .E36 v. 8



Early church classics



ST. POLYCARP



OlKTip/Xtay tioKvKapTTos h Koi Qpovuv apx^^P^os
"EffX^ KC-^ cLTpfKews ixapTuplT]s aT€(pduovs.

Anth. Pal. i. 87.



Earli^ Cburcb Classics.

ST. IpOLYCARP

BISHOP OF SMYRNA X^#^ ^^ -'"''^l^l



BY THE

REV. BLOMFIELD JACKSON, M.A.

VICAR OK ST. BARTHOLOMEW, MOORFIELDS, EXAMINING
CHAPLAIN TO THE BISHOP OF ST. ALBANS.



PUBLISHED UNDER THE DIRECTION OF THE TRACT COMMITTEE.



SOCIETY FOR PROMOTING CHRISTIAN KNOWLEDGE,

London: Northumberland avenue, w.c;

43, queen victoria street, e.c.

Brighton : 129, north street.

New York : E. & J. B. YOUNG & CO.

1898



CONTENTS



PREFACE ........

I. EARLY REFERENCES AND QUOTATIONS
II. INTERNAL EVIDENCE OF GENUINENESS OF
EPISTLE TO PHILIPPIANS

III. INTERNAL EVIDENCE OF GENUINENESS OF

THE LETTER OF THE SMYRN^ANS

IV. LIFE OF ST. POLYCARP
V. MSS. AND VERSIONS

VI. SUGGESTED CHRONOLOGY
VII. THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS
VIII. THE LETTER OF THE SMYRN.^ANS
INDICES ......



PACK
V



i6

19
22

25
27

28

49

75



PREFACE



This translation of the one extant Letter of St. Polycarp,
and of the Letter of the Smyrnaeans narrating his martyr-
dom, is designed to put within the reach of English
readers in a handy form two of the most valuable of the
classics of the Church. In point of time the Epistle of
Polycarp is one of the writings which come very near to
those of canonical authority. It may with reasonable
probability be placed within some quarter of a century
after the publication of St. John's Gospel, a somewhat
shorter interval separating it from the Epistle of St.
Clement. It appears to have been read in public at least
as late as the time of Jerome, who in his de Viris lUust.
xvii. calls it "valde utilem epistolam quae usque hodie in
Asiae conventu legitur." It perhaps hardly deserves the
depreciatory description of being " but a commonplace
echo of the apostolic epistles" (D.C.B. iv. 424), but it is
distinctly inferior in literary power to the Letters of
Clement and Ignatius. One of the chief reasons why it
is valuable is that it does " echo " canonical writings, and
proves their dissemination and acceptance at the time of
its composition. Unlike the Epistle of Clement, who was
brought up amid Jewish associations, it shows far less
familiarity with Hebrew Literature than with apostolic
writings. Its reproduction of apostolic thought is obvious
in cases where no verbal correspondence can be asserted.
Special attention is called by marked type in this edition
to instances of unquestionable quotation and reference,
and these, if less numerous than those claimed for it in



vi PREFACE

some quarters, afford a remarkable vindication of Epistles
of St. Paul of which the genuineness has been assailed,
and are quite incompatible with any antagonism between
the supposed rival Johannine school and Pauline school.
The Letter of the Smyrnasans embodies the fullest and
not the least affecting contemporary narrative of an early
martyrdom. The faith, constancy, and courtesy of the
aged Bishop are a striking illustration of the power work-
ing in the Roman world since Pentecost, and gradually
subduing it. With the exception of the obvious inter-
polation or misreading of the " dove " in Chap. xvi. there
is nothing of the grotesquely marvellous which disfigures
some later stories. The placing of the martyrdom under
Antoninus Pius furnishes an illustration of the fact that the
reigns of " good " emperors were not good times for the
Church. The period between A.D. 98 and 180, covering
the generally beneficent reigns of Trajan, Hadrian,
Antoninus Pius, and Marcus Aurelius, includes famous
persecutions. The accession of the brutal Commodus
brought relief. So long as Christianity was not a " Religio
Licita" it was always open to a zealous or hostile magis-
trate to puit unrepealed edicts in force. Bishop Lightfoot
dates the martyrdom of Publius Bishop of Athens (Euseb.
Hist. Ecc. iv. 23), and of Ptolema^us and Lucius (Justin,
ApoL ii. 2), as well as that of Polycarp and his com-
panions, in the reign of Antoninus Pius. The second of
these cases supplies a striking illustration of the state of
things normally obtaining in the empire. Arrest might
come at any moment, without organized and general
persecution. The form of procedure indicates that later
reigns saw no abrogation of the principle formulated under
Trajan, that the bare confession of Christianity was held
to be a capital offence irrespectively of any moral offences
included in an accusation.



ST. POLYCARP



I

EARLY REFERENCES TO ST. POLYCARP AND
HIS MARTYRDOM, AND QUOTATIONS FROM
HIS EPISTLE

I. Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, writing c.
A.D. no:

(a) " I would give my life for you, and for
them whom for God's honour you sent to
Smyrna, from which place I am writing to you,
giving thanks to the Lord, loving Polycarp even
as I love you." — Eph. xxi.

(jS) " The Ephesians from Smyrna, from which
place I am writing to you, salute you. They
arc here with me for the glory of God, just as
you are {i. e. in the persons of their envoys), and
they have in all things refreshed me, together
with Polycarp, Bishop of the Smyrnxans."-^
Mag. XV.



8 ST. POLYCARP

(y) " I salute your holy Bishop and venerable
presbytery and the deacons my fellow servants."
— Sviyni. xii.

(8) " Ignatius to Polycarp, Bishop of the
Church of the Smyrnaeans, . . . hearty greet-
ing." — Polyc. Inscr. etc.

II. The "Shepherd" of Hennas, c. A.D. 150.
The references here are less obvious and direct
than in other authors, but Dr. C. Taylor (^Joiivjial
of Philology^ XX.) is of opinion that Hermas knew
and used Polycarp's Epistle : e.g. Hermas, J/<'?;/rt?'.
xii. i. I, on "bridling" and "fighting lust,"
would appear to be in connection with both
James i. 26 and iii. 2, and Polycarp, Ep. § 5.
Again the remarkable description of " widows "
as an " Altar of God," in connexion with the
charge to " make supplication unceasingly," sug-
gests parallels with Hermas, Mand. x. iii. 2;
Sim. ii. 5, V. 3, 7, and ix. 27.

III. Letter of the Smyrna^ans, c. A.D. 156,
translated herein.

IV. Lucian, the witty litterateur of Samosata,
writings. A.D. 165-170. Bishop Lightfoot {Apost.
Fathers, II. i. p. 606) enumerates the possible
references to the martyrdom of Polycarp in the
satire on the Death of Pcregrinus, who com-
mitted suicide at the Olympic Games of A.D.
165. Salient points are (i) the lighting of thc^



BISHOP OF SMYRNA 9

pyre with torches and fagots, (ii) the stripping
off the clothes, (iii) the prayer on the pyre, (iv)
the comparison with a baking, and (v) the eager-
ness of the crowd for reHcs.
^. Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons, f c. A.D. 200.

(a) Adv. Hcer. iii. 3 ; of. Euseb. Hist. Ecc. iv.
14. " Polycarp too, who was not only instructed
by Apostles, and had been the companion of
many that had seen the Christ, but had also
been appointed for Asia by Apostles as Bishop
of the Church in Smyrna. We ourselves have
seen him in our early manhood, for he long sur-
vived and departed this life at a great age, after
a glorious and most splendid martyrdom. He
constantly taught what he had learned from
the Apostles, what the Church hands down, and
what alone is true."

In the continuation of this passage, Irenaeus
refers to the visit of Polycarp to Rome to confer
with Anicetus, who was Bishop of Rome c. A.D.
153-155- "There are those," he adds, "who
have heard him tell how John, the disciple of the
Lord, when he went to take a bath in Ephesus,
and saw Cerinthus within, rushed away from
the bath without bathing, with the words, ' Let
us flee, lest the room should even fall in, for
Cerinthus, the enemy of the truth, is within.'
Yea, and Polycarp himself also, when Marcion



lO ST. POLYCARP

on one occasion confronted him, and said
* Recognise us,' replied, ' Aye, aye, I recognise
the first-born of Satan.' So great care did the
Apostles and their disciples take not to hold any
communication, even by word, with any of those
who falsify the truth, as Paul also said, ' A man
that is an heretic, after the first and second
admonition reject ; knowing that he that is such
is subverted and sinneth, being condemned of
himself.' "

(/3) In the Letter to Victor (Euseb. H.E. v. 24):
" When the blessed Polycarp sojourned at Rome
in the days of Anicetus, they had some slight
difference with one another, on this and on other
matters. They did not care to have any strife
on this point, and at once made peace. On the
one hand Anicetus was unable to persuade
Polycarp not to observe the customs which he
had always observed with John, the Lord's
disciple, and with the rest of the Apostles in
whose company he had lived. Nor on the other
hand did Polycarp persuade Anicetus to observe
them, for he urged that he ought to hold to the
practice of the presbyters before him. Under
these circumstances they communicated together,
and in the Church Anicetus yielded the Eucharist ^
to Polycarp, plainly as a mark of respect ; thus

• i.e. the privilege of offering the eucharistic sacrifice.



BISHOP OF SMYRNA I I

both parties, the observer and the non-observers,
kept the peace of the whole Church, and so
parted."

(y) In the Adv. HcEr. v, 33, § 4, Irenaeus speaks
of Papias (Bishop of HierapoHs, •)- c. A.D. 140),
"hearer of John and a companion of Polycarp."

(6) In his Letter to Florinus (Euseb. Hist.
Ecc. v. 20) I renins writes — " When I was still a
boy, I saw thee in Lower Asia at Polycarp's,
faring splendidly in the imperial court, and en-
deavouring to stand well with him. For I
remember the events of that time more clearly
than what is of recent occurrence. The lessons
learned in childhood grow with the growth of
the soul, and become one with it ; and so I am
able to tell even the spot where the blessed
Polycarp used to sit and discourse, his goings
out and his comings in, his manner of life, his
personal appearance, and the public discourses
which he used to give. I remember how he used
to tell of his intercourse with John, and with the
rest of those who had seen the Lord, and how
he recalled and related their words. And such
particulars as he had heard concerning the Lord,
and concerning His mighty works, and concern-
ing His teaching, Polycarp, as having derived
them from the eye-witnesses of the life of the
Word, used to tell without exception in harmony



12 ST. POLYCARP

with the Scriptures. To these things by God s
mercy I used to Hsten with all my might, noting
them down from time to time, if not on paper, in
my heart ; and ever by God's grace I faithfully
turn them over and over in my mind. And I
am able to bear witness before God that if any-
thing of the kind {i.e. the heresy previously
referred to) had been heard by that blessed and
apostolic elder he would have cried out, and
stopped his ears, and with his familiar words,
* Oh good God, to what times hast Thou kept
me that I should endure these things,' would
have fled from the spot where he was sitting or
standing when he had heard such words. And
this can be made quite plain from the letters
which he wrote whether to the Churches in his
neighbourhood confirming them, or to certain of
the brethren warning and exhorting them."

(e) In the Adv. Hcbv. iii. 3, 4, Iren?eus writes —
" There is a very sufficient epistle of Polycarp
written to the Philippians in which all who wish
to do so, and care for their salvation, can learn
both the character of his faith and of his preach-
ing of the truth."

VI. Polycrates, Bishop of Ephesus, f c. A.D.
195. — Ep. ad Victorem ep. Rom. apud Euseb.
Hist. Ecc. V. 24.

Enumerating the " great lights of Asia, who



BISHOP OF SMYRNA 1 3

have fallen asleep and shall rise again at the day
of the Lord's coming," Polycrates mentions
'' Polycarp, bishop and martyr at Smyrna."

VII. TertuUian, writing, c. A.D. 200, f c. A.D.
240 : " Thus it is that Apostolic Churches hand
down their registers ; as that of the Smyrnaeans
recalls Polycarp appointed by John." De
Prcescr. Hceret. xxxii.

VIII. "Acts of Pionius," a martyr at Smyrna,
in the Decian persecution, March 12, A.D. 250 ;
the date being fixed by the names of the
consuls. Of the " Acts " two Latin forms of
translation are extant (Bollandists, Feb. i, and
Ruinart, Acta Sincera^ pp. 188, et seg.). "So on
the second day of the sixth month, which is the
IVth before the Ides of March, being a great
Sabbath,! on the birthday of Polycarp the
martyr, persecution overtook Pionius," etc.

^ March 12 was not a Saturday in A.D. 250. Bishop
Lightfoot considers the reference to the Sabbath an inter-
polation, and would " with some confidence " restore the
chronological notice at the close of the Acts of Pionius as
follows : " These things happened when Julius Proculus
Quintilianus was Proconsul [of Asia], in the Consulship
of [Imperator] Gaius Messius Quintus Trajanus Decius
[Augustus] for the second time, and Vettius Gratus,
according to Roman reckoning on the fourth before the
Ides of March, according to Asiatic reckoning on the
nineteenth day of the sixth month, at the tenth hour,
but, according to the reckoning of us (Christians), etc.,



14 ST. POLYCARP

IX. Eusebius, Bishop of Caesarea, f c. A.D. 340.
In his Chronicon, Eusebius writes on the first
year of Trajan (A.D. 98) : " Irenreus states that
the Apostle John Hved till the time of Trajan.
After him Papias of Hierapolis and Poly carp,
Bishop of the Province of the Smyrnaeans, were
recognised as his disciples." And after the
seventh year of M. Aurelius (A.D. 167): " Per-
secution attacking the Church, Polycarp under-
went martyrdom. His martyrdom is committed
to writing." ^

In his Ecc. Hist. iii. 36, 38 ; iv. 14, 15, and v.
5 and 20, there are references to the life and
martyrdom of Polycarp. (Cf. pp. 9, 10, 11.)

X. In the Apostolical Constitutions, of un-
certain date, but in parts probably of the fourth
century, there are three probable references to the
Epistle of Polycarp, chap. iv. : "Our widows must
be sober-minded . . . knowing that they are God's
altar" ; viz. in iii. 6; iii. 14, and iii. 26.

in the reign of our Lord Jesus Christ, etc." — Lightfoot
Apost. Fathers^ II. i. p. 721.

^ This statement has been the main source of opinion
as to the date of the martyrdom. But it is to be observed
that it is placed not over against, but ajter^ the date.
And there immediately follows a reference to the persecu-
tions at Vienne and Lyons in A.D. 177. Eusebius does
not apparently mean to be more definite than that these
martyrdoms happened about this period. .See p. 73, /;.



BISHOP OF SMYRNA I 5

XI. Also of the latter part of the fourth
century is probably the groundwork, if not the
whole, of the fictitious Life of Poly carp, by
Pionius, which incorporates the Epistle. It was
published by the Bollandists in Latin, and
a Greek Text was edited from a MS. in the
Paris Library by Duchesne in 1881.

XII. To these may be added : St. Jerome, c.
A.D. 400, De Viris Ilhist. xvii. ; Socrates, c. A.D.
440, Hist. Ecc. V. 22 ; Sozomen, c. A.D. 455, Hist.
Ecc. vii. 19 ; Theodoret, A.D. 446, Ep. cxlv. ; and,
somewhat later, Autiochus of St. Saba, c. A.D. 610,
as pointed out by Dr. Cotterill. (Cf p. 18.)

The evidence of quotation and reference is
therefore strong ; far stronger than can be
adduced for the genuineness of some of the most
generally accepted classics. " To the concurrent
testimony of antiquity," says Bishop Lightfoot
{Apost. Fathers, II. i. p. 582), "there is no dis-
sentient voice."



1 6 ST. POLYCARP



II

INTERNAL EVIDENCE OF THE GENUINENESS
OF THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS

I. The style and composition are such as
might be expected from a writer of deep personal
piety and of familiarity with the Scriptures of the
Church.

II. The position of influence implied is exactly
what might be expected in the case of a favourite
pupil of St. John.

III. There is no trace of anachronism ; of tone
of thought or allusion proper to, or specially
characteristic of, a later date.^

^ An attempt has been made to show that the condem-
nation of heresy in § vii. refers to the Docetism of Marcion,
who did not become notorious till the reign of Antoninus
Pius, and was probably a small boy at the date of the
Epistle. But it has been replied (cf. Bishop Lightfoot,
Apost. Fathers^ II. i. p. 585) that the assumption that
Marcion is aimed at is as improbable as it is gratuitous :
"not only is there nothing specially characteristic of
Marcion in the heresy or heresies denounced by Polycarp,
but some of the charges are quite inapplicable to him."



BISHOP OF SMYRNA 1/

IV. Opponents of the genuineness of the
Ignatian letters, with the questions touching
which the defence of the Epistle of Polycarp is
closely connected, have attributed both the Ig-
natian Letters and the Letter of Polycarp to
one and the same imaginary forger.

The refutation of any such theory of common
authorship lies in the fact of the obvious points
of contrast marking the two works, a contrast,
as Bishop Lightfoot remarks [/,c. p. 594], " more
striking indeed than we should have expected to
find between two Christian writers who lived at
the same time, and were personally acquainted
with each other." Among these points are :

(a) Scripture. The one short Letter of Poly-
carp contains much more quotation of the New
Testament than the seven Letters of Ignatius,
and where Ignatius does show familiarity with
the New Testament it is mainly by allusion and
turn of phrase. On the other hand, some
students would go so far (e.g: Funk, Die Echtheit
der Ignatianischen Brief e, p. 34, quoted by Light-
foot) as to reckon thirty-five direct quotations
from the New Testament in Polycarp, twenty-
two being from Apostolic Epistles.

(/3) Doctrine. St. Polycarp is rather hortatory
than didactic. In St. Ignatius we have plain
statements as to the Incarnation, the real man-

B



1 8 ST. POLYCARP

hood, and the two natures of the Lord, and the
Sacrament of the Eucharist, as in Eph. vi. xiii.
XX. ; Magn. vii. ; Trail, viii. ; PJiilad. iv. etc.
Nothing of the kind occurs in Polycarp.

(y) The Church and Church Organisation.
St. Ignatius is strong on the unity of the Church
and the Episcopate. St. Polycarp is silent ais to
unity, and only implies the Episcopate in his
salutation, " Polycarp and the Presbyters with
him."

V. In \y\^ Journal of Philology, vol. xix. pp.
241-285, Dr. Cotterill argued that Antiochus,
monk of Santa Saba, early in the seventh century,
whose Homilies (Migne, Greek Fathers, Ixxxix.)
contain portions of the Epistle, was probably
himself the author of the Epistle of Polycarp.

This novel theory has been elaborately refuted
by Dr. C. Taylor, Master of St. John's College,
Cambridge, in \\\q. Journal of Philology, vol. xx.



BISHOr OF SMYRNA I9



III



INTERNAL EVIDENCE OF THE GENUINENESS
OF THE LETTER OF THE SMYRN^ANS ON
THE MARTYRDOM OF ST. POLYCARP

The narrative professes to be that of contem-
poraries and eye-witnesses. Do the contents of
the document afford indications that it was the
composition of a later date, more or less fabulous
and legendary? The grounds on which some
critics ^ have given an affirmative answer to this
challenge are :

I. The miraculous element. Look, it has been
said, at the dove (§ xvi.) issuing from the wound
in the side, and at the flames (§ xv.) refusing to
consume. What of the fragrance floating from
the pyre? On these points see notes to the
sections referred to.

II. Aj){3arcnt anachronisms, e.g. the reverence
paid to martyrs and their relics. On this too see

^ €.j^. Keim, who would place its date as late as
A.D. 260-282 {Alls dc in Urchristcnthiim^ p. 130).



20 ST. POLYCARP

note on § xvii., and observe with Bishop Light-
foot, how only " half a century later Tertullian
uses language which shows that the ceremonial
commemoration of the dead was far more
developed than as here represented." — De Coron.
iii.

III. The use of the phrase " Catholic Church,"
supposed to indicate a later date than A.D. 155.
Why ? Even if the word be genuine in § xvi.
where Polycarp is described in the Common
Text as "Bishop of the Catholic Church in
Smyrna," and the distinctive title be used to
distinguish the Catholic Church from heretical
sects, why not .-* There were already heretical
sects, and there are almost contemporary in-
stances of the use of the word Catholic in this
sense (^.^. Clement of Alexandria, Strom, vii. 17).

IV. A subtler objection has been the appar-
ently artificial character of the incidents recorded
as parallel to those of the Passion of our Lord.
Attention is specially called to the prediction of
death three days after apprehension (§ v.), to the
name of the officer " Herodes " (§ vi.), to the
treachery of one of the household (§ vi.), to the
apprehension near the city (§§ v., vi.), at night
(§ vii.), as a robber (§ vii.), to the words of
resignation, *' God's will be done" (§ vii.), and to
the piercing of the body (§ xvi.).



BI<5HOr OF SMYRNA 2t

But these are all natural and likely circum-
stances, and the tendency to group and represent
them as reminders of the Passion of our Lord
was so inevitable in the case of early martyrdom.^
as to call for no special remark. Obviously a
fable-monger free to invent might have invented
better coincidences than these; "The most
striking coincidence," says Bishop Lightfoot, " is
the name Herodes ; but this name was sufficiently
frequent in Polycarp's time, and there is only a
faint resemblance between the position of the
Smyrnsean captain of police, who takes Polycarp
into custody, and the Galilean King, whose part
in the Passion was confined to insolent mockery,
and who pronounced Jesus innocent of the
charges brought against him. Here again a
fabricator would have secured a better parallel.
We may say generally that the violence of the
parallelism is a guarantee of the accuracy of the
facts!' — Bishop Lightfoot, Apost. Fathers, II. i.
613, 614.



22 ST. POLYCARP



IV

LIFE OF ST. POLYCARP

Extant genuine authorities for the life of Poly-
carpus,^ or Polycarp, of Smyrna, are confined to
the passages already cited, and to materials to
be gathered from the Letter of Polycarp and the
Letter of the Smyrnaeans.

The Pionian "Life," referred to on p. 15, is
plainly unauthentic. It deals largely with a
fantastic supernaturalism, quotes non-existent
documents, and cannot be relied on. It may,
however, preserve some true traditions. It relates
how Polycarp was a little slave-boy, bought and
brought up by a pious and wealthy widow
named Callisto, who eventually made him her
steward. He was ordained Deacon by Bucolos
(a personage of possible historical character, and
perhaps appointed Bishop of Smyrna by St.
John), Bishop of Smyrna, who loved him as a

^ The name Polycarpus, noXi'icap7roy, = fruitful, pro-
ductive. Cf Horn. Od. vii. 122, xxiv. 221. It was a
common slave's name ; a Graffito at Pompeii advertises
' Polycarpus fugit.'



BISHOP OF SMYRNA 23

son. That he wrote " many " treatises, sermons
and letters, all destroyed by his persecutors
about the time of the martyrdom, is improbable,
for his extant Epistle gives no indications of
practice in literary composition. But it may
well have been one among several.^

The representation that he was a man of
property is corroborated by the mention of the
slave lads in the Letter of the Smyrnaeans (§ vi.),
and by the probability that the homestead where
he was arrested, and where he offered hospitality
to the imperial officers, was his own (§§ vi., vii.).

Was Polycarp a married man ? This has
been both asserted and denied on equally in-
sufficient evidence. Ignatius in his Letter to
Polycarp (§ v.) has been supposed to urge any
one professing virginity to beware of arrogance,
lest by acquiring greater fame than the Bishop he
be ipso facto defiled ; and so to imply that the
Bishop was not a celibate. But the true render-
ing of the passage is almost certainly not" if Jie
become known beyond the Bishop " but " if it
become known," i. e. if the profession of virginity
go beyond the ears of the Bishop. Again, the
fact that Alee is saluted in the Letter of Ignatius
to Polycarp (§ viii.) and in that to the Smyrnaeans
(^ xiii.) is manifestly a slender support for the
conjecture that she was Polycarp's wife. But as
^ Cf Euseb. Hist. Ecc. v. 20, quoted on p. 1 2.



24 ST. POLYCARP

the marriage of the clergy was not yet seriously
objected to in the second century either in East


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