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Natalis Alexander makes out as badly, and even worse: First, by a truly ridiculous course of argument he attempts to prove that Paul's conversion took place in A. D. 34, and his visit to Peter in A. D. 37 ;1 then he maintains, without adducing the slightest proof or reason, that Peter left Jerusalem immediately after this visit and went to Antioch, though Luke states precisely the contrary (Acts 9: 31 etc., x., 11:19, etc.). He indeed attempts a proof, but it cannot be so called. "Saint Leo," he says,2 "writes in his letter to Anatolius, that the name of Christians first arose in the Church of Antioch through the preaching of Peter. But this could not be true, unless Peter came there in the same year in which Paul reached there, when indeed 'the disciples were first called Christians at Antioch.'" Such nonsense is from the pen of the learned Natalis!
"The second journey of St. Paul to Jerusalem," he goes on, "which he made with Barnabas, during the famine prophesied by Agabus, at which time Peter also was put in prison, took place in the eleventh year after the crucifixion of Christ, i. e. in the second year of Claudius. Hence it is clear that between Paul's first and second journeys to Jerusalem,3 there are seven years, five full years and the first and seventh incomplete. These seven years Peter must have spent at Antioch."
It is remarkable that Natalis should not once have known what he might have learned from any Chronological Outlines, the fact that this second year of Claudius, who came to the empire in A. D. 41, after Caligula's death, is A. D. 42; and that, further, in this second year he has placed Peter's imprisonment, which belongs to the fourth year of Claudius. So there were nine years for Peter's bishopric at Antioch.
But Natalis does still worse, page 176, col. 2.: "St. Peter," he says, "founded the church of Antioch in the last year of Tiberius, A. D. 37, in the fourth after the death of
1 Dissert. XIII. T. III. edit. Ferrariae, fol. p-172, col. 2, at the close. 2 Ibid., the hist lines and beginning of p. 173.
8 After the second visit Peter may have directly left Jerusalem and gone to Home, to wit, in A. D. 42.
Christ, as Eusebius and the Alexandrine Chronicle testify; but he appears to have established there only a church of the Jews, and not of the Gentiles. For the gospel was first preached to the Gentiles in that city some time after, by the disciples who shared in the persecution in which Stephen, the first martyr, was stoned (Acts xi.). But the report of this (namely, that many of the Gentiles had received the faith) came to the ears of the church of Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch, and a great multitude were converted to the Lord. Barnabas went to Tarsus to seek for Saul; and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch, and both remained a whole year with the church there. After this year had passed, they bore alms to Jerusalem at the time of the famine prophesied by Agabus. At this time, Herod cast St. Peter into prison."
"We see what trash these otherwise worthy men wander after, when they give themselves up to their party prejudices. Therefore already, in A. D. 37, Peter must have founded a church at Antioch, one indeed of Jewish Christians, and this before those scattered abroad by the persecution of Paul (Acts xi.) had come to Antioch! Such fables must be hung upon the Acts of the Apostles, merely to satisfy the whims of the Ultramontanists.
And now what contradictions these are! This same Natalis who, on page 176 of his work, rates Calvin so dictatorialiy because he placed Paul's conversion in A. D. 36, and who, almost with violence, refers it back to A. D. 34, here places the persecution in which Stephen was put to death (and which was before the conversion of Paul) a year before the second journey of Paul to Jerusalem, during the famine predicted by Agabus and Peter's imprisonment, i. e. in the time of Claudius, i. e. after A. D. 41, or exactly in 44!
§ 5. Origin of the story of Peter's bishopric at Antioch— Old
At a very early date, ambition had already crept into the Christian church. At the time when the dignity of metropolitan, primate, and patriarch were formed, everything was sought out which might lend them authority and impart to them honor. To this period especially belongs the tracing back of the origin of a church or office to a particular apostle. And here, in general, their endeavors were directed to the two most celebrated and well known, Peter and Paul. And as since the third century, in which the above-mentioned degrees of rank of the episcopate were formed, the Romish church, which was the first on account of the preeminence of the city, make Peter their founder and first bishop; so the two olher churches which, as next in rank, vied with the Romish, viz. those of Antioch and Alexandria, likewise sought to prove Peter their founder, in which they might hope to succeed as, according to Galatians ii., he was once actually in Antioch. But it was not till in the fourth century that a pretension which made Peter founder and first bishop of Antioch in the face of Acts 11: 19, etc., could actually succeed; for, up to that time the feeling for historic criticism was so great that it could not be conquered.
Let us now look at the testimony on which the Ultramontanists sustain themselves; and here Natalis Alexander, evidently one of the most sound and learned, shall serve as the source of authority. Natalis, p. 177, quotes these passages:
1. S. Ignatii, ep. 12, ad Antiochaenos: Mementote Evodii beatissimi patris vestri, qui primus post apostolos gubernacula ecclesire vestra? sortitus est—" Remember your most blessed father Euodius, to whom first after the apostles, was allotted the government of your church." This letter is an interpolated one. Natalis admits it. Besides, there is in this passage nothing of Peter: it says nothing else than that Euodius was the first bishop of Antioch.
2. Eusebius, L. iii. 16. Porro Evodius primus fuit Antiochiae Episcopus, secundus Ignatius, qui illis temporibus multum hominum sermonibus celebratus fuit — " Moreover Euodius was the first bishop of Antioch, Ignatius the second, who was greatly celebrated at that time in the discourses of men." Here is nothing of Peter; indeed in naming Euodius the first bishop of Antioch, he decidedly denies that Peter was the first bishop there.
3. Hieron. in Catalogo: Ignatius Antiochise ecclesise tertius post Petrum apostolum episcopus — " Ignatius, the third bishop of the church of Antioch after the apostle Peter." Here then, for the first time, Peter makes his appearance as bishop of Antioch. Jerome wrote after A. D. 400.
4. Chrysostomus, homil. de Laudibus S. Ignatii: Ignatius S. Petro in episcopatus dignitate successit. Nam ut, si quis e fundamentis magnum lapidem eruat, alteram ei parem in ejus loco conatur constituere; alioqui totum edificium labascet et corruet; ita, cum Petrus Antiochia esset discessurus, alteram Petro parem preceptorem gratia Spiritus substituit, ne inchoata jam ffidificatio successoris contemtu debilior fieret — " Ignatius succeeded St. Peter in the dignity of the episcopate. For, as if any one tear away a mighty stone from the foundations, he endeavors to place another equal to it in its place; otherwise the whole fabric may slide and fall to ruin ; so, when the apostle Peter left Antioch, the Spirit graciously substituted another teacher equal to Peter, lest the begun building should be weakened from contempt of the successor." Chrysostom writes this as a presbyter of Antioch. With him it is not Euodius but Ignatius who is the first successor of Peter. "With so little firmness does the succession stand.
1 To what inconsistencies bald Ultramontanism conducts even otherwise able men, a single example may show.
We have seen, that some make not Euodius bat Ignatius the first bishop of Antioch. To harmonize the two accounts, Natalis, p. 177, col. 2, says: ' From this indeed it is understood that St. Ignatius was ordained bishop of Antioch by St. Peter, that he might discharge the Episcopal office in that city for a time, but not up to his death. That I may assert this, I infer from a conjecture which I draw from Book VII. of the Apostolical Constitutions, though I know they are not altogether unquestionable. They are decidedly spurious, and belong to the fifth century. We rend there, c. 46, Kuodius was created bishop of Antioch by St. Peter and Ignatius, so by St. Paul, not indeed one after another, but at the same time. Which, indeed. I conjecture, was then done when the dissension was excited among the believers who were of the circumcision and those who had come to the faith from the Gentiles. Then the remedy was applied, that as long as this state of things existed both should have a see at Antioch, and one of them should preside over those of the circumcision, but the other over those who should come
5. Theodoret, in dialogo: Immutabilis; De illo enim Ignatio omnino audisti, qui per magni Petri dextram pontificatum, suscepit—" You have heard concerning that Ignatius who received the pontificate by the hand of the great Peter."
6. Felix III., in Ep. ad zenon. imperat.: Ignatium dextera Petri esse ordinatum Antiochenee sedis episcopum —" Ignatius was ordained bishop of the see of Antioch by the hand of Peter."
7. Cone. Rom. sub Damaro: Tertia vero sedes apud Antiochiam apostoli Petri habetur honorabilis, eo quod illam prirnitus quam Romam venit, habitavit, et illic primum nomen Christianum novellas gentis exortum est —" The third see, at Antioch, is regarded as honored through the apostle Peter, because before he came to Rome he occupied it, and there first the name Christian, of a new nation, had its origin."
8. S. Leo, Serm. I. in nat. apost.: Jam Antiochenam, b. Petre, ecclesiam, ubi prirnum Christiani nominis dignitas exorta est, fundaveras — " Thou hast now, O blessed Peter, founded the church of Antioch, where first arose the dignity of the Christian name."
9. Greg. I., Epist., L. vi. 37: S. Petrus firmavit sedem, in qua septem annis quamvis discessurus sedit — " St Peter established the see in which he sat for seven years, though he was to leave it."
We see what is the weight of these testimonies—just nothing at all; they are from the fifth, sixth, and seventh centuries. Peter's bishopric at Antioch is shown to be, in all respects, a fable.
into the church from the Gentiles. But that wall of division being at length removed and both parties united into one assembly, there was no longer need of two, but of one bishop only. Then Euodius remained in that sacred office, to whom Ignatius willingly yielded as Clemens did to Linus in the church at Rome. To such nonsense, yea, to the invention of a schism in the church of the apostles, these men have recourse in order to confirm their fables.