by Adolph (von) Harnack
translated and edited by James Moffatt
Second, enlarged and revised English edition;
Theological Translation Library, volumes 19-20
From the German, Die
[[being updated (also consulting the 4th German edition) and adapted by RAK
for use in 2004
Greek needs to be inserted, using side by side format? see end of the TOC file for editing details]]
[Book 2, Chapter 7, pp. 240ff; edited by Virginia Wayland, March 2004; and by Amna Khawar April 2004]
THE TIDINGS OF THE NEW PEOPLE AND OF THE THIRD RACE:
THE HISTORICAL AND POLITICAL CONSCIOUSNESS OF CHRISTENDOM
THE gospel was preached simultaneously as the consummation of Judaism, as a new religion, and as the restatement and final expression of man's original religion. Nor was this triple aspect preached merely by some individual missionary of dialectic gifts; it was a conception which emerged more or less distinctly in all missionary preaching of any scope. Convinced that Jesus, the teacher and the prophet, was also the Messiah who was to return ere long to finish off his work, people passed from the consciousness of being his disciples into that of being his people, the people of God: <g>u(mei=s ge/nos e)klekto/n, basil/leion i(epa/teuma, e)/qnos a(/gion, lao\s ei)s peripoihsin<g> (1Pet.2.9: "Ye are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for possession") ; and in so far as they felt themselves to be a people, Christians knew they were the true Israel, at once the new people and the old.
This conviction that they were a people -- i.e., the transference of all the prerogatives and claims of the Jewish people to the new community as a new creation which exhibited and realized whatever was old and original in religion -- this at once furnished adherents of the new faith with a political and historical self-consciousness. Nothing more comprehensive or complete or impressive than this consciousness can be conceived. Could there be any higher or more comprehensive conception than that of the complex of momenta afforded by the Christians' [] estimate of themselves as "the true Israel," "the new people," "the original people," and " the people of the future," i.e., of eternity? This estimate of themselves rendered Christians impregnable against all attacks and movements of polemical criticism, while it further enabled them to advance in every direction for a war of conquest. Was the cry raised, "You are renegade Jews "-the answer came, "We are the community of the Messiah, and therefore the true Israelites." If people said, "You are simply Jews," the reply was, "We are a new creatiomi and a new people." If, again, they were taxed with their recent origin and told that they were but of yesterday, they retorted, "We only seem to be the younger People ; from the beginning we have been latent ; we have always existed, previous to any other people; we are the original people of God." If they were told, " You do not deserve to live," the answer ran, "We would die to live, for we are citizens of the world to come, and sure that we shall rise again."
There were one or two other quite definite convictions of a general nature specially taken over by the early Christians at the very outset from the stores accumulated by a survey of history made from the Jewish standpoint. Applied to their own purposes, these were as follows: -- (1) Our people is older than the world; (2) the world was created for our sakes; \1/ (3) the world is carried on for our sakes; we retard the judgment of the world; (4) everything in the world is subject to us and must serve us; (5) everything in the world, the beginning and course and end of all history, is revealed to us and lies transparent to our eyes; (6) we shall take part in the judgment of the world and ourselves enjoy eternal bliss. In various early Christian documents, dating from before the middle of the second century, these convictions find expression, in homilies, apocalypses, epistles, and apologies,\2/ and nowhere else did [] Celsus vent his fierce disdain of Christians and their shameless, absurd pretensions with such keenness as at this point.\3/
\1/ By means of these two convictions, Christians made out their case for a position superior to the world, and established a connection between creation and history.
\2/ Cp. the epistles of Paul, the apocalypse of John, the " Shepherd" of Hermas, (Vis., 2.4.1), the second epistle of Clement (14.), and the Apologies of Aristides and Justin (2.7). Similar statements occur earlier in the Jewish apocalypses.
\3/ He is quite aware that these pretensions are common to Jews and Christians, that the latter took them over from the former, and that both parties contended for the right to their possession. <g>meta\ tau=ta,<g> observes Origen (c. Cels., 4.23 ), <g> ruviiOws ~aurQ yE?..row rb 'Iou~aiwv gal Xpioriai'iv Twos rdvTas ,rapa~E'$A,p v~~rrpi~wv clpsa~Q ~vpILn w F's IcaAi.c srposX0ouTty ~aTpdxo1s n€pl TdAts lruve&pEuoulrw 31 lTICs?.flLV dv $opl3dpou 7wl~ i~~X~~id~ouo Iral irpbs is X Xous ~La/)Fpo/Lwots, Tfv€s abrwp El'w aiaprwAdr€poi, Iral ~bdosouow ITL lndyra i iv d O~os irpo~nxo( cal srpolcarcsyyEAAEI, ,csl TI'S' ,rdpTa ,cdcr/4ov SC5l Tlv ol'p(vios' ~opav roX~ir,bw Sal TiJv Torra~rflv y~v irapt~iv Lv 5dvots ,ro?,iTei€TaL Sat irpbs ~12Ces pdvsus fr~s~puic€u€ra~ Iral,~,irw ov IaAEfir€ itsl f is v, b',rs,s &€l ,ruv~opw aui p. itsl iv ~c, avairxdrp.ar( yr iauroii ,rapa,rX e1ous iµ?s lroLE inch~ t, ado,couuw b'i-t 1 Oeds iortv, el-ra err' Jit€wov ijiets Vii' abrsi y€yovdres 7rdPIp ($/sotoi T~pp OeQ, sat ijpZv ir&vrs S~o~i$As'rat, y~ ical bIwp iral idp Iral ~JTpa, gal wESa srdvra, Sal iu' iiouArdrw raicra,. Aryouol ~i TI nap' aus4i of cTsc Af,crs, ~ srZs sjAas'j, un PUP, rnrTwES [iv] isIv e2oi oiiow, a(erai Orbs fj sri rI ri rb5' vide, wa ,eaTa4AE~t) robs ii~hcot,s ,cal of ?,oiirol wv al'JTp Cww aicv,ov fx i '. Kal E'7rL~E'pet 7€ ,io',v 'Sri ~avra [mAXovj ] avucrb oswX1,cwv scat $aTpdXw 'los~afw gal xpnrriwww rpbs XAXovg &Laq epoµivwv <g>(" In the next place, laughing as usual at the race of Jews and Christians, he likens them all to a flight of bats, or a swarm of ants crawling out of their nest, or frogs in council on a marsh, or worms in synod on the corner of a dunghill, quarrelling as to which of them is the greater sinner, and declaring that 'God discloses and announces all things to us beforehand; God deserts the whole world and the heavenly region and disregards this great earth in order to domicile himself among us alone; to us alone he makes his proclamations, ceasing not to send and seek that we may company with him for ever.' And in his representation of us, he likens us to worms that declare 'there is a God, and next to him are we whom he has made in all points like unto himself, and to whom all things are subject -- land and water, air and stars ; all things are for our sakes, and are appointed to serve us.' As he puts it, the worms, i.e., we Christians, declare also that 'since certain of our number commit sin, God will come or send his son to burn up the wicked and to let the rest of us have life eternal with himself.' To all of which he subjoins the remark that such discussions would be more tolerable among worms and frogs than among Jews and Christians ").
But for Christians who knew they were the old and the new People, it was not
enough to set this selfconsciousness over against the Jews alone, or to contend
with them for the possession of the promises and of the sacred book; \4/ settled
on the soil of the Greek and Roman empires, they had to define [] their
position with regard to this realm and its "people." The apostle Paul had
already done so, and in this he was followed by others.
\4/ This controversy occupies the history of the
first generation, and stretches even further down. Although the broad lines of
the position taken up by Christians on this field were clearly marked out, this
did not exclude the possibility of various attitudes being assumed, as may be
seen from my study in the third section of the first volume of the 7exte a.
Unlersuchun en (1883), upon "the anti.Jewish polemic of the early church."
In classifying mankind Paul does speak in one passage of "Greeks and barbarians" alongside of Jews (Rom.1.14), and in another of "barbarians and Scythians" alongside of Greeks (Col. 3.11); but, like a born Jew and a Pharisee, he usually bisects humanity into circumcised and uncircumcised -- the latter being described, for the sake of brevity, as "Greeks."\5/ Beside or over against these two " peoples " he places the church of God as a new creation (cp., e.g., 1Cor. 10.32, "Give no occasion of stumbling to Jews or Greeks or to the church of God "). Nor does this mere juxtaposition satisfy him. He goes on to the conception of this new creation as that which is to embrace both Jews and Greeks, rising above the differences of both peoples into a higher unity. The people of Christ are not a third people to him beside their neighbours. They represent the new grade on which human history reaches its consummation, a grade which is to supersede the previous grade of bisection, cancelling or annulling not only national but also social and even sexual distinctions.\6/ Compare, e.g., Gal. 3.28 <g>00K ev1 'Iov&21oc ovde "EXXs7v, OUK €S't Up~€51 ICut Oqw' 7r(;5IT€c )/up ~si X pw r 'i' o o~<g>, or Gal. 5.6: <g> esi X pioT~~ 'Iq~oU OUTC 7r€pLTOf2tj Ti (0XUG.L OU'Te WCpo,3u0Tia, (LXXU 7rWT1c (11' uyu;, )s wepyov~~vsj <g> (cp. 6.15, <g> ore yap 7r€ptTop.sI Ti ?st?? 0tT€ (J.lepo/300TIa, UXXU KaIO r~ioic,<g> and 2Cor. 5.17). 1Cor. 12.13: <g> ~s ~s' ~ 7rveu/.saTt l//i€Lc -iravTec eic w ow/J.a €fia7rTw OI7/.L€l', CLTE 'Iov8atot €tTC "EXXs7sieg, COre ~oU/\0t CLT€ €X€uOcpot.<g> [] Coloss. 3.11 : <g> b"irou o1')K 'su "EXX,jv Knit 'Iov8ayoc, vrept~o,aij Kut aKpofivcrTIa, /3apdapoc, ~Kud)f, SouXoc, €X€uOepoc. <g> Most impressive of all is Ephes.2.11 f.: <g> /PWJ.OV€U€TG tilt 7rdr u/L€tc Ta . jT€ U7r'JXXoTpLW/.LePot Till IVOXITCius ToU 'Io-pa)iX (~ Ypw-rdc) evT(V Ctp)V1J iy1Ur)11, () oroujcruc Ta w Kut To MccroToiXov 'roy q'pay/aov wcrac . Ira ~oliS & o eu UUTOJ €i~ wa Kaivoui JuiOpw7rov 7rotwv ~~p)~uijLJ, cat o)caruAXasfToLJ s /.oT€pOuc ~~ w~ ow/AaTu.<g> Finally, in Rom. 9.- 11. Paul promulgates a philosophy of history, according to which the new People, whose previous history fell within the limits of Israel, includes the Gentile world, now that Israel has been rejected, but will embrace in the end not merely "the fulness of the Gentiles" (<g> i Xsp?µa TO)!' ~Ovr v <g>) but also "all Israel" (<g> ,r&c 'Io paijX <g>).
\5/ Even in the passage from Colossians the common expression "Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision"(<g>°EAA~v lcd 'lo&ios, 7rEpLTO/ Ka1 &Itpo$uor(a<g>) is put first ; "barbarian, Scythian, bond and free " (<g>$cipapos, ,ciiOs, oiXos, iXwOepos<g>) follows as a rhetorical amplification.
\6/ It was in the conception of Christ as the second Adam that the conception of the new humanity as opposed to the old, a conception which implies a dual division, was most deeply rooted. The former idea obviously played a leading part in the world of Pauline thought, but it was not introduced for the first time by him; in the Messianic system of the Jews this idea already held a place of its own. In Paul and in other Christian thinkers the idea of a dual classification of mankind intersects that of a triple classification, but both ideas are at one in this, that the new humanity cancels the old.
Greeks (Gentiles), Jews, and the Christians as the new People (destined to embrace the two first) -- this triple division now becomes frequent in early Christian literature, as one or two examples will show.\7/
\7/ For Christians as the new People, see the " Shepherd " of Hermas, and Barn. 5. 7 <g>(Xpio-rs) ktur~ r, v Aaai' TbP icaw~p E'rot,s Cwy <g> (Christ preparing himself the new people); 7.5, <g> 6r~p a/Lapru p ~E'AAwv roe Xaov TO Icaivs 1rpourrpsiv T4;+ epics <g> (Christ about to offer his flesh for the sins of the new people); 13.6, <g> Th' Aabv rorov [new and evidently young] i(t'ai TpwTov <g> (ye see that this people is the first); 2 Clem. ad Cor, 2.3, <g> ~pipsos ?~ducei €Tvai 67r Toy 0€oi 6 Aabs E'!'LWy, PUS1 ~~ ,r,OrE6Tap7€s ,rXEloy€s ~yEPd4EOa Tcv o,coE'prwp ix~iv 0eov <g> (" Our people seemed to be forsaken of God, but now we have become more numerous by our faith than those who seemed to possess God"); Ignato, ad Ephes., 19.-20. ; Aristides, Apol., 16. (" truly this people is new, and a divine admixture is in them") ; Orac. Sibyll., 1.333 f., <g>$Aaovbs YEds av8fKEfEV rf €'Oiuy <g> (" a fresh growth shall blossom out of the Gentiles "). Bardesanes also calls the Christians a new race. Clement (Paed., 1.5.15, on Zech. 9.9) remarks : <g>06c Tb 1r,Aop eip,pc€'vai pdeov, 6Xlm.a pal rb yEop lrp0KE'0fllr€y ai'r~~, i3tv E'v XpLO-TI vEo7aiap rms avop rd-r,-og . . . ~p~a(vwv <g> (" To say 'colt' was not enough ; 'young' had to be added, in order to bring out the youth of humanity"); and in 1.5.20 he observes, <g> pies 6 tads 6 mcauslr rp?ss 6vTi~zao-rokly isi 7rpEO$UTE'pOU Aao~ Ta YE'S /SS0dVTEs ayaOri <g> (" In contradistinction to the older people, the new people are young because they have learned the new blessings "). See also 1.7.58, <g> meal yap p ,i,s 6.im.,Ois ~u6 p~v Mwi'o€ws ~ai~aywyas d Input's Tel' ?eoi) roi iraXaioU, ~L' a6roi ~~ TOU VE'OU IcaOsfl'E/si.w aoi, lrpdow,rov 7rp c rpJow1rov <g> ("For it was really the Lord who instructed the ancient people by Moses; but the new people lie directs himself, face to face "). The expression " new people" was retained for a long while in those early days; cp., e.g. Constant., ad s. Coel. 19., <g> car& pd VOW ToU Ti$€pfov ~ TOi; lwTflpOs €~~Xap/'c irapouefa . . . i) TE WE'S TOY 5E'psoe ~~c~oXi~ evvEorfl, K.T.?. <g>(" About the time of Tiberius the advent of the Saviour flashed on the world .... and the new succession of the people arose," etc.). On the other hand, Christians are also the "non-gens," since they are not a nation; cp. Orig., Hom. I. in Ps. 36. (vol. 12. p. 155): " Nos sumus non gens' [Deut. 32.21], qui pauci ex ista civitate credimus, et alli ex alia, et nusquam gens integra ab initio credulitatis videtur assumpta. Non enim sicut Iudaeorum gens erat vel Aegyptiorum gens ita etiam Christianorum genus gems est una vel integra, sed sparsim ex singulis gentibus congregantur." -- For Christians as a distinctive genus, or as the genus of the truly pious, see Mart. Polyc., 3., <g> i) 75555i11711 To'J tI€OLXQUS meal 0soar~ois ',ss'vuus t?? XpseTiavc" <g> (" the brave spirit of the God-beloved and God-fearing race of Christiaus ") ; xiv., <g> irap T? 7ip05 T&P ~mmeaiwe <g> ("the whole race of the righteous"); Martyr. Ignat. Antioch., <g> ii., -r ~ TWY XpwTsaP&i. 0EOOE$ S ywor <g> (the pious race of Christians). Also Melito, in Eus., H.E., 4.26.5, <g> ~a Tm'lJ' B€oa~$w v'ros <g>(" the race of the pious "), Arnobius, 1.1 (" Christiana gens"), pseudo-Josephus, Tetim. de Christo (<g>ri 55U"XOY T5H' XpieTsSmvs)v <g>-the tribe of the Christians) ; Orac. Sibyll., 4.136; <g>sio~$iwv ~vAop<g>, etc. Several educated Christians correlated the idea of a new and at the same time a universal people with the Stoic cosmopolitan idea, as, for example, Tertullian, who points out more than once that Christians only recognise one state, i.e., the world. Similarly, Tatian writes (Orat. 28.): "I repudiate your legislation ; there ought to be only one common polity for all men" (<g> rig irap' 6s7v ,nSTE'-yYWY v0/Ao06rr(as' puss pil" y&p E'XP1P ETYSL CSl ICOLVi1P 1571t(YTWW Ti)I ,roAirsicmv <g>). This democratic and cosmopolitan feature of Christianity was undoubtedly of great use to the propaganda among the lower and middle classes, particularly throughout the provinces. Religious equality was felt, up to a certain degree, to mean political and social equality as well.
[] The fourth evangelist makes Christ say (10.16) : "And other sheep have I which are not of this fold ; them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice, and there shall be one flock, one shepherd." And again, in a profound prophetic utterance (4.21 f.) : "The hour cometh when neither in this mountain [that of the Samaritans, who stand here as representatives of the Gentiles] nor in Jerusalem shall ye worship the Father ; ye worship what ye know not; we worship what we know, for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth." This passage is of importance, because it is something more than a merely formal classification ; it defines, in a positive manner, the three possible religious standpoints and apportions them among the different peoples. First of all, there is ignorance of God, together with an external and therefore an erroneous worship (=the Gentiles, or Samaritans); secondly, there is a true knowledge of God together with a wrong, external worship (= the Jews) ; and thirdly, there is true knowledge of God together with worship that is inward and [] therefore true (=the Christians). This view gave rise to many similar conceptions in early Christianity; it was the precursor of a series of cognate ideas which formed the basis of early Christian speculations upon the history of religion. It was the so-called "gnostics" in particular who frankly built their systems upon ideas of this kind. In these systems, Greeks (or pagans), Jews, and Christians sometimes appear as different grades; sometimes the two first are combined, with Christians subdivided into " psychic" (<g>yu/xikoi<g>) and " pneumatic " (<g>pneuma/tikoi<g>) members; and finally a fourfold division is also visible, viz., Greeks (or pagans), Jews, churchfolk, and "pneumatic" persons.\8/ During that period, when religions were undergoing transformation, speculations on the history of religion were in the air; they are to be met with even in inferior and extravagant systems of religion.\9/ But from all this we must turn back to writers of the Catholic church with their triple classification.
\8/ It is impossible here to go into the question of how this ethnological division of humanity intersected and squared with the other religious division made by the gnostics, viz., the psychological (into ''hylic," "psychic," and "pneumatic" persons).
\9/ With regard to the religious system of the adherents of Simon Magus, we have this fragmentary and obscure piece of information in Irenxus (I. xxiii.) : Simon taught that "he himself was he who had appeared among the Jews as the Son, who had descended in Salnaria as the Father, and made his advent among other rtatiomss as the holy Spirit " (" Semctipsum esse qui inter Judaeos qiIidem quasi fllius apparuerit, in Samaria auteni quasi paten descendent, in reliquis vero gentibus quasi spirilus sanctus adventaverit ").
In one early Christian document from the opening of the second century, of which unfortunately we possess only a few fragments (i.e., the Preaching of Peter, in Clem., Strom., 6.5.41), Christians are warned not to fashion their worship on the model of the Greeks or of the Jews (<g> ej KUTU ToUc "EXXa a-s'3€a-Oe TOv 0€~v .. . KUTU 'Iouow'ouc o /3e00€ <g>). Then we read: <g> WQT€ Kai V/€~~ OOLWf rat &Katwc fJaVGaVOVTCc a 7rapa&topev vp.w, ~',uXuoo-eo0e Katvwc TOV Oeov &U TOU Xpw-ToI cT€$O/t€Iio ' eUpo/L€P dap w Taz' y?afaI? KuOwc ~ ruptoc X~yei' liol &aTLOe/La1 ipw Katv;7v cimaO1 KJv ou ~ etc &eOe/nii' Toys 7rarpacrw LWv v l'pet Xwp(3 ' etcw ),uip &eO€TO,T~ yap `EAX4ewv Kat'Iouoatwv 7ruXu~~, l1 o~ KULVWc at)~~v Tpt'T~p yw€L 06,3~,tL€uoL X pw-Ttavot <g> (" So [] do you keep what you have learnt from us holily and justly, worshipping God anew through Christ. For we find in the scriptures, as the Lord saith, Behold I make a new covenant with you, not as I made it with your fathers in Mount Horeb. A new covenant he has made with us, for that of the Greeks and Jews is old, but ye who worship him anew in the third manner are Christians ").\10/
\10/ The term "religio Christiana" does not occur till Tertullian, who uses it quite frequently. The apologists speak of the distinctive <g>qeose/beia<g> of Christians.
This writer also distinguishes Greeks, Jews, and Christians, and distinguishes them, like the fourth evangelist, by the degree of their knowledge and worship of God. But the remarkable thing is his explicit assumption that there are three classes, neither more nor less, and his deliberate description of Christianity as the new or third genus of worship. There are several similar passages which remain to be noticed, but this is the earliest of them all. Only, it is to be remarked that Christians do not yet call themselves "the third race"; it is their worship which is put third in the scale. The writer classifies humanity, not into three peoples, but into three groups of worshippers.
Similarly the unknown author of the epistle to Diognetus. Only, with him the conception of three classes of worshippers is definitely carried over into that of three peoples (" Christians esteem not those whom the Greeks regard as gods, nor do they observe the superstition o£ the Jews . . . . [thou enquirest] about the nature of this fresh development or interest which has entered life now and not previously," ch. 1. ; cp. also ch. 5. "They are attacked as aliens by the Jews, and persecuted by the Greeks "). This is brought out particularly in his endeavour to prove that as Christians have a special manner of life, existing socially and politically by themselves, they have a legitimate claim to be ranked as a special "nation."
In his Apology to the Emperor Pius, Aristides distinctly arranges human beings in three "orders," which are equivalent to nations, as Aristides assigns to each its genealogy -- i.e., its historical origin. He writes (ch. 2.) : <g> 5avcp~v )~p €OTC ~th (3ao-mXeu, OTt Tpa )/eVil E101Y Uv0pWirWV €1) T?~8C Tcp KOO/ q) the [] cia-w ol map' 6p1v Xe-yop.€'tiwv Occv 7rpoo-Icusorra KuL 'Iouoatos SCat Xpscrrsaz'oi auTot 8€ raXty of ~ouc 7roXXoic o-c$d tenor ?e??? dc Tpta 8LappowTa( ye't'i, XaX6aiouc -i-c Kai "EXXz'ac at AL'ySflTTL'ovf <g> (then follows the evidence for the origin of these nations, whilst the Christians are said to "derive their genealogy from Jesus Christ ").\11/
How seriously Irenaeus took this idea of the Christians as a special people, is evident from his remarks in 4.30. The gnostics had attacked the Jews and their God for having appropriated the gold and silver vessels of the Egyptians. To which Irenaeus retorts that it would be much more true to accuse Christians of robbery, inasmuch as all their possessions originated with the Romans. "Who has the better right to gold and silver? The Jews, who took it as a reward for their labour in Egypt? or we, who have taken gold from the Romans and the rest of the nations, though they were not our debtors?" This argument would be meaningless unless Irenaeus regarded Christians as a nation which was sharply differentiated from the rest of the peoples and had no longer anything to do with them. As a matter of fact, he regarded the exodus of Israel from Egypt as a type of the " profectio ecclesiae e gentibus" (4.30.4).
The religious philosophy of history set forth by Clement of Alexandria rests entirely upon the view that these two nations, [] Greeks and Jews, were alike trained by God, but that they are now (see Paul's epistle to the Ephesians) to be raised into the higher unity of a third nation. It may suffice to bring forward three passages bearing on this point. In Strom., 3.10.70, he writes (on the saying "where two or three are gathered together," etc.): <g> e~~ 6' dv ,cai ~advota raw 7roXXwv isiro TOiv TpLWV apsesou ssvi ,ueO' hi 6 ici1ptoc, ia eKKXP O- a, 6 ei avOpwTOc, ~o ysvoc ~6 ev. i7 tt Tt rci-ix rv roi w6c roI 'Iou8aiou 6 Kupsoc vop060Twv 7rpo~5)s7TEuwv 8€ ij8IJ rat TOV 'Iepe uav aIrOOTEXXWv etc Ba%3uXwwu, aXXs scat ~otic eat €wWw &a Tslc 7rpoc/)ilTecac ,caXww, wy~ye Xaouc ToUf 8~o, TptTOc tIe ;v eK TOW tIt'€W KT i~cp.woc e?s Kawov aiM pwrov, ip Sij e/L1repsTaTe ~ Td Kat KarosKe ~ ev avTfl Tfl €KKXi7OL g <g> (" Now the harmony of the many, calculated from the three with whom the Lord is present, might signify the one church, the one man, the one race. Or was the Lord legislating with the one Jew [at Sinai], and then, when he prophesied and sent Jeremiah to Babylon, calling some also from the heathen, did he collect the two peoples together, while the third was created out of the twain into a new man, wherein he is now resident, dwelling within the church"). Again, in Strom., 5.14.98, on Plato's Republic, iii. p. 415: <g> ci cs TL TpeZc -rwac ti1roTr& revoc ~'uo-etc, TpdiS' roXLT6tac, WI tiir€Xa~ov Twcc, 6taypa~cs, cal lou8uiwv ,w izpyvp&v, 'EXArvwv 6~ rpl'r;)v <g> [a corrupt passage, incorrectly read as early as Eus., Prepar., xiii. 13'; on the margin of L there is the lemma, <g> 'EXX4vwv as8~7ptzv x X,~v, X ps~rsavoiv ~pu~qv], X psaTtuvww 8, oic 6 6 f3aa-sXtic c eyKaTa/ bttKTay Tai dysov ~vc6ca <g> (" Unless he means by his hypothesis of three natures to describe, as some conjecture, three polities, the Jews being the silver one, and the Greeks the third [the lemma running thus : "The Greeks being the iron or brass one, and the Christians the gold one "], along with the Christians, with whom the regal gold is mixed, even the holy Spirit "). Finally, in Strom., 6.5.42: <g> esc y0W) T?11 EXX7VIK?Jg 7raLtIEs.af, aXXcs scat cc Till vo/LLIcl7c €11 70 w ywOI Tot) a-w°o/.Lei'ou crwayavTac Xaou 01 Tilt' -lrIcrTsv irpoos~~wot, oil x,o vw &a1pou uw TWV Tpsww Xawv, wa t?? ~ract~ rnroXa$ot TpLTTaI, ,c.T.X. <g>(" From the Hellenic discipline, as also from that of the law, those who accept the faith are gathered into the one race of the people who are saved -- not [] that the peoples are separated by time, as though one were to suggest three different natures," etc.).\12/
\12/ Clement (Strom., 2.15.67) once heard a " wise
man" explain that Gentiles (" seat of the ungodly"), Jews (" way of sinners"),
and heretics ("seat of the scornful") were meant in Ps. 1.1. This addition of
''heretics" is simply due to the passage under discussion.
Evidence may be led also from other early Christian writers to show that the triad of "Greeks (Gentiles), Jews, and Christians " was the church's basal conception of history.\13/ It was employed with especial frequency in the interpretation of biblical stories. Thus Tertullian enlists it in his exposition of the prodigal son (de Pudic., viii, f.) ; Hippolytus (Comm. in Daniel, ed. Bonwetsch, p. 32) finds the Christians in Susanna, and the Greeks and Jews in the two elders who lay snares for her ; while pseudo-Cyprian (de Mont. Sina et Sion, 7.) explains that the two thieves represent the Greeks and Jews. But, so far as I am aware, the blunt expression "We Christians are the third race" only occurs once in early Christian literature subsequent to the Preaching of Peter (where, moreover, it is simply Christian worship which is described as the third class), and that is in the pseudo-Cyprianic tract De Pascha Computus (c. 17), written in 242-243 C.E. Unfortunately, the context of the expression is not quite clear. Speaking of hell-fire, the author declares it has consumed the opponents of Ananias, Azarias, and Misael, "et ipsos tres pueros a dei filio protectos-in mysterio nostro qui surnus tertium genus hominum - non vexavit " ("Without hurting, however, those three lads, protected by the Son of God -- in the mystery which pertains to us who are the third race of mankind"). It is hard to see how the writer could feel he was reminded of Christians as the third race of men by the three children who were all-pleasing in God's sight, although they were cast into the fiery furnace; still, reminded he was, and at any rate the inference to be drawn from the passage is that he must have been familiar with the description of Christians as a "third race." What sense he attached to it, we [] are not yet in a position to determine with any certainty ; but we are bound to assume, in the first instance, from our previous investigations, that Christians were to him a third race alongside of the Greeks (Gentiles) and Jews. Whether this assumption is correct or false, is a question to be decided in the second section of our inquiry.
\13/ The letter of Hadrian to Servianus (Vopisc., Saturnin., 8.) is to be included among these witnesses, if it is a Christian fabrication: "Hunc (nummum) Christiani, hunc Judaei, hunc omnes venerantur et gentes" (" Christians, Jews, and all nations worship this one thing, money").
The consciousness of being a people,\14/ and of being indeed the primitive and the new people, did not
remain abstract or unfruitful in the church; it was developed in a great variety
of directions. In this respect also the synagogue had led the way at every
point, but Christianity met its claim by making that claim her own and extending
it, wherever this was possible, beyond the limits within which Judaism had
There were three cardinal directions in which the church voiced her peculiar consciousness of being the primitive people. (1) She demonstrated that, like any other people, she had a characteristic life. (2) She tried to show that so far as the philosophical learning, the worship, and the polity of other peoples were praiseworthy, they were plagiarized from the Christian religion. (3) She began to set on foot, though merely in the shape of tentative ideas, some political reflections upon her own actual importance within the world-empire of Rome, and also upon the positive relation between the latter and herself as the new religion for the world.
1. The proofs advanced by early Christianity with regard to its <g>politei/a<g> were twofold. The theme of one set was stated by Paul in Philippians 3.20: "Our citizenship (<g>politei/a) is in [] heaven" (cp. Heb. 13.13 f.: "Let us go outside the camp. .. for here we have no permanent city, but we seek one which is to come "). On this view Christians feel themselves pilgrims and sojourners on earth, walking by faith and not by sight; their whole course of life is a renunciation of the world, and is determined solely by the future kingdom towards which they hasten. This mode of life is voiced most loudly in the first similitude of Hermas, where two cities with their two lords are set in opposition -- one belonging to the present, the other to the future. The Christian must have nothing whatever to do with the former city and its lord the devil ; his whole course of life must be opposed to that of the present city, with its arrangements and laws. In this way Christians were able emphatically to represent themselves as really a special people, with a distinctive course of life; but they need not have felt surprised when people took them at their word, and dismissed them with the remark: <g> 7rcere €auTot/f (/)OVCUn-cXUTCf iropcu€ndc? ij n-epa TOv O€ov at ij/J.LV wpa'y/LaTa ~ij 7rap€~eT€ <g> (" Go and kill yourselves, every one of you ; begone to God at once, and leave us in peace "), quoted by Justin, Apol., 2.4.
This, however, represented but one side of the proof that Christianity had a
characteristic life and order of its own. With equal energy an attempt was made
to show that there was a polity realized in Christianity which was
differentiated from that of other nations by its absolute morality (see above,
pp. 205 f.). As early as the apostolic epistles, no point of dogma is more
emphatically brought forward than the duty of a holy life, by means of which
Christians are to shine as lights amid a corrupt and crooked generation. "Not
like the Gentiles," nor like the Jews, but as the people of God -- that is the
watchword. Every sphere of life, down to the most intimate and trivial, was put
under the control of the Spirit and re-arranged; we have only to read the
Didache in order to find out the earnestness with which Christians took " the
way of life." In line with this, a leading section in all the Christian
apologies was occupied by the exposition of the Christian polity as a polity
which was purely ethical, the object being in every case to show that this
Christian polity was in accordance with the highest moral [] standards,
standards which even its opponents had to recognize, and that for this very
reason it was opposed to the polity of the other nations. The Apologies of
Justin (especially 1.14. f.), Aristides (15.), Tatian and Tertullian especially,
fall to be considered in this light.\15/ The conviction that they are in
possession of a distinctive polity is also voiced in the notion of Christians as
the army of the true God and of Christ.\16/
\15/ The belauded description in the epistle to Diognetus (5.6) is a fine
piece of rhetoric, but not much more than that. The author manages to express
three aspects, as it were, in a single breath : the Christian polity as the
climax of morals, the Christian aloofness from the world, and the inwardness by
which this religion 'was enabled to live in the midst of the world and adapt
itself to all outward conditions without any loss of purity. A man who is able
to weave these ideas into one perfect woof, either stands on the high level of
the fourth evangelist -- a position to which the author can hardly be promoted
-- or else incurs the suspicion of paying no serious attention to any one of the
three ideas in question.
2. The strict morality, the monotheistic view of the world, and the subordination of the entire life of man, private and social, to the regulations of a supreme ethical code -- all this is " what has been from the very first" (" quod ab initio fuit "). Now as the church finds this once more repeated in her own life, she recognizes in this phenomenon the guarantee that she herself, though apparently the youngest of the nations, is in reality the oldest. Furthermore, as she undertakes to bring forward proof for this conviction by drawing upon the books of Moses, which she appropriated for her own use (cp. Tatian, Theophilus, [] Clement, Tertullian, and Julius Africanus),\17/ she is thereby dethroning the Jewish people and claiming for herself the primitive revelation, the primitive wisdom, and the genuine worship. Hence she acquires the requisite insight and courage, not merely to survey and appropriate for herself the content of all connected with revelation, wisdom, and worship that had appeared on the horizon of other nations, but to survey and estimate these materials as if they were merely copies made from an original in her own possession. We all know the space devoted by the early Christian apologies to the proof that Greek philosophy, so far as it merited praise and was itself correct, had been plagiarized from the primitive literature which belonged to Christians. The efforts made in this direction culminate in the statement that " Whatever truth is uttered anywhere has come from us." The audacity of this assertion is apt to hide from us at this time of day the grandeur and vigor of the selfconsciousness to which it gives expression. Justin had already claimed any true piece of knowledge as "Christian," whether it occurred in Homer, the tragedians, the comic poets, or the philosophers. Did it never dawn on him, or did he really suspect, that his entire standpoint was upset by such an extension of its range, and that what was specifically " Christian" was transformed into what was common to all men? Clement of Alexandria, at any rate, who followed him in this line of thought, not merely foresaw this inference, but deliberately followed it up.
\17/ Note in passing that this marks the beginning in general of the universal chronography of history, and consequently of the general Christian outlook upon the entire course of human history.
By comparing itself with philosophy, early Christianity gave itself out as a "philosophy," while those who professed it were philosophers." This, however, is one form of its self-consciousness which must not be overrated, for it is almost exclusively confined to the Christian apologetic and polemic. Christians never doubted, indeed, that their doctrine was really the truth, and therefore the true philosophy. But then it was infinitely more than a philosophy. It was the wisdom of God. They too were different from mere philosophers ; they were God's [[ 255]] people, God's friends. It suited their polemic, however, to designate Christianity as philosophy, or "barbarian" philosophy, and adherents of Christianity as "philosophers." And that for two reasons. In the first place, it was the only way of explaining to outsiders the nature of Christian doctrine -- for to institute a positive comparison between it and pagan religions was a risky procedure. And in the second place, this presupposition made it possible for Christians to demand from the State as liberal treatment for themselves as that accorded to philosophy and to philosophic schools. It is in this light, pre-eminently, that we must understand the favorite parallel drawn by the apologists between Christianity and philosophy. Individual teachers who were at the head either of a school (<g>didaskalei=on<g>) within the church or of an independent school, did take the parallel more seriously; \18/ but such persons were in a certain sense merely adjuncts of catholic Christendom.\19/ The charge of plagiarism was not merely levelled against philosophy, so far as philosophy was genuine, but also against any rites and methods of worship which furnished actual or alleged parallels to those of Christianity. Little material of this kind was to be found in the ofilcial cults of the Greeks and Romans, but this deficiency was more than remade up for by the rich spoil which lay in the mysteries and the exotic cults, the cult o£ Mithra, in particular, attracting the attention of Christian apologists in this connection at a very early period. The verdict on all such features was quite simple: the demons, it was argued, had imitated Christian rites in the cults of paganism. If it could not be denied that those pagan rites and sacraments were older than their Christian parallels, the plea readily suggested itself that the demons had given a [] distorted copy of Christianity previous to its real appearance, with the object of discrediting it beforehand. Baptism, the Lord's supper, the rites of expiation, the cross, etc., are instances in point. The interests of dogma are always able to impinge on history, and they do so constantly. But here we have to consider some cases which are specially instructive, since the Christian rites and sacraments attained their final shape under the influence of the mysteries and their rites (not, of course, the rites of any special cultus, but those belonging to the general type of the mysteries), so that dogma made the final issue of the process its first cause. Yet even in this field the quid pro quo appears in a more favourable light when we notice that Christendom posits itself as the original People at the dawn of human history, and that this consciousness determines their entire outlook upon that history. For, in the light of this presupposition, the Christians' confiscation of those pagan rites and ceremonies simply denotes the assertion of their character as ideally human and therefore divine. Christians embody the fundamental principles of that divine revelation and worship which are the source of human history, and which constitute the primitive possession of Christianity, although that possession has of course lain undiscovered till the present moment.
\18/ Such teachers, with their small groups, hardly felt themselves to be the " primitive people." Their consciousness of entire independence was expressed in the titles of "gifted "and "learned." We shall have to discuss the Christian <g>didaskalei=a<g> and its significance for the Christian propaganda in another connection; but we can well understand how pagans found the Christians' claim to be "learned" and "philosophers" a peculiarly ridiculous and presumptuous pretension. On their part, they dubbed Christians as credulous, and scoffed at them as <g>pistoi/<g> ("believers "), who put faith in foreign fables and old wives' gossip.
\19/ They have nothing to do with the primitive shape assumed by Christianity, that of Jesus as the teacher and the disciples as his pupils.
3. The most interesting side of the Christian consciousness of being a people, is what may be termed, in the narrower sense of the word, the political. Hitherto, however, it has been studied less than the others. The materials are copious, but up till now little attention has been paid to them. I shall content myself here with laying bare the points of most inportance.\20/
\20/ Tertullian's sentence (Apol., 38.) :
<l>"Nulla magis res nobis aliena quam publica; unam omnium rempublicam
agnoscimus, mundum"<l> (" Nothing is more alien to us than politics ; we
acknowledge but one universal state, the world ") has a Stoic tinge; at best, it
may be taken with a grain of salt. Besides, people who despise the state always
pursue a very active policy of their own.
The political consciousness of the primitive church was based on three presuppositions. There was first of all the political element in the Jewish apocalyptic, which was called forth by the demand of the imperial cultus and the terror of the persecution. Then there was the rapid transference of the gospel from [] the Jews to the Greeks, and the unmistakable affinity between Christianity and Hellenism, as well as between the church and the world-wide power of Rome. Thirdly, there was the fall and ruin of Jerusalem and the Jewish state. The first of these elements stood in antithesis to the two others, so that in this way the political consciousness of the church canne to be defined in opposite directions and had to work itself out of initial contradictions.
The politics of Jewish apocalyptic viewed the world-state as a diabolic state, and consequently took up a purely negative attitude towards it. This political view is put uncompromisingly in the apocalypse of John, where it was justified by the Neronic persecution, the imperial claim for worship, and the Domitianic reign of terror. The largest share of attention, comparatively speaking, has been devoted by scholars to this political standpoint, in so far as it lasted throughout the second and the third centuries, and quite recently (1901) Neumann has discussed it thoroughly in his study of Hippolytus. The remarkable thing is that although Christians were by no means nunmerous till after the middle of the second century, they recognized that Christianity formed the central point of humanity as the field of political history as well as its determining factor. Such a self-consciousness is perfectly intelligible in the case of Judaism, for the Jews were really a large nation and had a great history behind them. But it is truly amazing that a tiny set of people should confront the entire strength of the Roman empire,\21/ that it should see in the persecution of the Christians the chief role of that empire, and that it should make [] the world's history culminate in such a conflict. The only explanation of this lies in the fact that the church simply took the place of Israel, and consequently felt herself to be a people; this implied that she was also a political factor, and indeed the factor which ranked as decisive alongside of the state and by which in the end the state was to be overcome. Here we have already the great problem of "church and state" making its appearance, and the uncompromising form given to it at this period became normal for succeeding ages. The relationship between these two powers assumed other forms, but this form continued to lie concealed beneath them all.
\21/ Tertullian was the first who was able to threaten the state with the great number of Christians (Apol., 37., written shortly before 200 CE), for up till then people had merely endeavoured to hold out the terrors of the calamities at the close of the world and the return of Christ. Although Christians still lacked a majority in the empire, still (from the outset) a substitute for this, so to speak, was found in the telling fact of the broad diffusion of Christianity throughout the whole empire and beyond its bounds. Even as early as the first generations, the fact that Christians were to be found everywhere strengthened and molded their self-consciousness. In contrast to nations shut up within definite boundaries, even though these were as large as those of the Parthians, Tertullian calls Christians (Apol., 37.) the <l>" gems totius orbis,"<l> i.e., the people of the whole world. And this had been felt long before even Tertullian wrote.
This, however, is only one side of the question. The transition of the gospel from the Jews to the Greeks, the unmistakable affinity between Christianity and Hellenismn, as well as between the church and the Roman world-power, and finally the downfall of the Jewish state at the hands of Rome -- these factors occasioned ideas upon the relation of the empire to the church which were very different from the aims of the accepted apocalyptic. Any systematic treatment of this view would be out of place, however; it would give a wrong impression of the situation. The better way will be, as we are dealing merely with tentative ideas, to get acquainted with the most important features and look at them one after another.
2 Thess. 2.5-7 is the oldest passage in Christian literature in which a
positive meaning is attached to the Roman empire. It is represented there, not
as the realm of antichrist, but, on the contrary, as the restraining power by
means of which the final terrors and the advent of antichrist are held in check.
For by <g>to\ kate/xwn (o( kate/xwn)<g>, " that which (or he
who) restrains," we must understand the Roman empire. If this be so, it follows
that the church and the empire could not be considered merely as diametrically
opposed to each other.
Rom.13.1f: makes this quite plain, and proceeds to draw the inference that
civil authority is <g>qeou= dia/kanos<g> (" a minister of God "),
appointed by God for the suppression of wickedness; resistance to it means
resistance to a divine ordinance. Consequently one must not merely yield to its
force, but obey it for conscience' sake. The very payment of taxes is a moral
[] duty. The author of 1 Pet. 2.13 f. expresses himself in similar
terms.\22/ But he goes a step further, following up the fear of God
directly with honour due to the emperor <g>(7rvTuc T1/L1/OUT€, T7v U(3€X
??t?yta yuvTUT€, TOt' Oct31' 1 O(35W O€, Tot' f e'7LXca TLp.aT€).<g>\23/
Nothing could be more loyal than this conception, and it is noticeable that the
author was writing in Asia Minor, among the provinces where the imperial cultus
\22/ Cp. Tit. 3.1 With regard to Paul's language in Romans, one may recollect what a quiet and happy time the early years of Nero were.
\23/ Greek Christians usually called the emperor <g>basileu/s<g> ("king"), a common title in the East, where it had not the same servile associations as "rex" had on the lips of people in the West. But<g>basileu/s<g> was also a title of the Lord Christ (<g>ku/rios xristo/s<g>) which Christians dared not avoid uttering (not merely on account of "the kingdom of God," <g>basilei/a tou= qeou=<g>, but also because Jesus had called himself by this name : John 18.33 f.). This occasioned a painful dilemma, though prudent Christians made strenuous efforts to repudiate the apparent treason which their religious usage of this title inevitably suggested, and to make it clear that by " kingdom " and " king" they understood nothing earthly or human, but something divine (so already Justin's Apol., I.6.). Some hotspurs, no doubt, declared to their judges that they recognised only one king or emperor (God or Christ), and so drew upon themselves just punishment. But these cases were very rare. Christ was also called " imperator" in the West, but not in writings intended for publicity.
Luke begins his account of Christ with the words (3.1): <g> e)ge/neto e)n tai=s h(me/rais e)kei/nais e)ch=lqen do/gma para\ Kai/saros Au)gou/stou a)pogra/fesqai pa=san th\n o)ikoume/nhn<g>. As has been correctly surmised, the allusion to the emperor Augustus is meant to be significant. It was the official and popular idea that with Augustus a new era dawned for the empire ; the imperial throne was its " peace," the emperor its saviour (<g>swth/r<g>). Behind the earthly saviour, Luke makes the heavenly appear - he, too, is bestowed upon the whole world, and what he brings is peace (ver. 14,<g>e)pi\ gh=s ei)rh/nh<g>).\24/ Luke hardly intended to set Augustus and Christ in hostile opposition; even Augustus and his kingdom are a sign of the new era. This may also be[] gathered front the book of Acts, which in my opinion has not any consciously political aim; it sees its the Roman empire, as opposed to Judaism, the sphere marked out for the new religion, it stands entirely aloof from any hostility to the emperor, and it gladly lays stress upon such facts as prove a tolerant mood on the part of the authorities towards Christians in the past.
\24/ Even the expression used in Eph. 2.14,<g> au)to/s e)stin n( ei)rh/nh h)mw=n <g> (" he is our peace "), is modelled on the language applied to the emperor in Asia Minor. I have shown elsewhere how strongly this language has influenced the terminology of Luke in the above-mentioned passage of his gospel. No doubt we have to think of Micah 5.4, in connection with Eph. 2.14 and Luke 2.14. But this converging of different lines was quite characteristic of the age and the idea in question.
Justin (Apol., I.12.) writes to the emperor: <g>upwyot riu.Iv rcrxi au,u/taXoL Tpos .€ip~~P3) COIL V 7rat'T(vv /LLLAXOV ~vOpo crwv <g> (" We, more than any others, are your helpers and allies in promoting peace "), admitting thereby that the purpose of the empire was beneficial (<l>pax terrena<l>), and that the emperors sought to effect this purpose. Also, in describing Christians as the power \25/ best adapted to secure this end -- inasmuch as they shun all crime, live a strictly moral life, and teach a strict morality, besides scaring and exorcising those supreme enemies of mankind, the demons -- he too, in a certain sense, affirms a positive relationship between the church and the state.
\25/ Wherever mention is made of the power of the
Christian people which upholds the state and frees humanity, it is always these
two factors wluch are in view -- their strict morality and their power over
demons. Others also wield the former weapon, though not so well. But the second,
the power over demons, pertains to Christians alone, and therefore they render
an incomparable service to the state and to the human race, small though their
numbers may be. From this conviction there grew up in Christianity the
consciousness of being the power which conserves and emancipates mankind in this
When the author of the epistle to Diognetus differentiates Christians from the world (the state) as the soul from the body (6.) and elaborates his account of their relationship in a series of antitheses, he is laying down at the same time a positive relation between the two magnitudes in question: <g> ~yK KX€w-Tat /A€V i/ T9) 0w/LaTI, cTUV€X€L 8~ aUTs/ TO TW/a ' scat X p?stta?o? KUT~XOVTUL /LsP we w cpoupa TO) KOOLW, auTol ?? su???o?s? TOV ic -/tor <g>(" The soul is shut up in the body, and yet holds the body together; so Christians are kept within the world as in a prison, yet they hold the world together "). Similarly Justin (Apol., II, 7.).
All this implies already a positive political standpoint, \26/ but [] the furthest step in this direction was taken subsequently by Melito (in Eus., H.E., 4.26). It is no mere accident that he writes in loyal Asia Minor. By noting Luke's suggestion with regard to Augustus, as well as all that had been already said elsewhere upon the positive relations subsisting between the church and the world-empire, Melito could advance to the following statement of the situation in his Apology to Marcus Aurelius:
\26/ I might also include here the remark of Athenagoras in his "Supplicatio" to the emperors (18.): <g> fXOLTS %uvrmv gal rip dnovpwmoy $aomXehsm JfsTdcEmp' "i 7 ~p IJ4tY IraIP1 ,cai Usra'vTa KEXE(pwTt~, IivwOEY Ts'p flaoiAeiav eIAs7~tidom $aemM'ws 'P' x ~" X"P1 OEOu, ~bsel rb irpo,5 rm,< v ,rvei1sa-ob'rws %Yl ~f? Oe gal T, lrap' s, roU i dy p viQ voou/4E'Y~ ~~Ept T ',r vTa 1rorraKTa,<g> (" May you be able to discover the heavenly kingdom by considering yourselves! For as all things are subject to you, father and son, who have received the kingdom from above -- since the king's soul is in the hand of God, says the spirit of prophecy, -- so are all things subordinate to the one God and to the Logos proceeding from him, even the Son, who is not apprehended apart from him").
"This philosophy of ours certainly did flourish at first among a barbarian people. But springing up in the provinces under thy rule during the great reign of thy predecessor Augustus, it brought rich blessings to thine empire in particular. For ever since then the power of Rome has increased in size and splendor; to this hast thou succeeded as its desired possessor, and as such shalt thou continue with thy son if thou wilt protect the philosophy which rose under Augustus and has risen with the empire, a philosophy which thine ancestors also held in honor along with other religions. The most convincing proof that the flourishing of our religion has been a boon to the empire thus happily inaugurated, is this -- that the empire has suffered no mishap since the reign of Augustus, but, on the contrary, everything has increased its splendor and fame, in accordance with the general prayer."
Melito's ideas need no analysis; they are plainly and clearly stated.\27/ The world-empire and the Christian religion are foster-sisters; they form a pair; they constitute a new stage of human history ; the Christian religion means blessing and welfare to the empire, towards which it stands as the inward to the outward. Only when Christianity is protected and permitted to develop [] itself freely, does the empire continue to preserve its size and splendour. Unless one is to suppose that Melito simply wanted to flatter -- a supposition for which there is no ground, although there was flattery in what he said -- the inference is that in the Christianity which formed part of the world-empire he really recognized a co-ordinate and sustaining inward force. Subsequent developments justified this view of Melito, and in this light his political insight is marvellous. But still more marvellous is the fact that at a time like this, when Christians were still a feeble folk, he actually recognized in Christianity the one magnitude parallel to the state, and that simply on the ground of religion -- i.e., as being a spiritual force which was entrusted with the function of supporting the state.\28/
\28/ Cp. also Orig., c. Cels., 8.70.: <g> &xA' of c O' &,rd900 ' KoA,rou rdvros &v a €u7 ytes 'PW,ac O4 E X6/J.wOi iropiE,lovrai ~mr ,roA~4iw ~ oL' &p~7v oovTOt, 'poupov/4Evot a,ra OE(as Iuvcurws, T?s It& icovra juc (ovs r 'rE rdA cs IAas ~~a~7ELAa/Lwfls itar7,rm<g> ("According to the notion of Celsus, if all the Romans are brought to believe, they will either overcome their foes by praying, or refrain from fighting altogether, being guarded by that power divine which promised to save five entire cities for the sake of fifty just persons ").
There is yet another early Christian writer on whom the analogy of Christendom and the world-empire dawned (a propos of its ecumenical range); only, he attempted to explain it in a very surprising fashion, which betrayed a deep hostility towards the empire. Hippolytus writes (in Dan., 4.9) : " For as our Lord was born in the forty-second year of the emperor Augustus, whence the Roman empire developed, and as the Lord also called all nations and tongues by means of the apostles and fashioned' believing Christians into a people, the people of the Lord, and the people which consists of those who bear a new name -- so was all this imitated to the letter by the empire of that day, ruling 'according to the working of Satan': for it also collected to itself the noblest of every nation, and, dubbing them Romans, got ready for the fray. And that is the reason why the first census took place under Augustus, when our Lord was born at Bethlehem ; it was to get the men of this world, who enrolled for our earthly king, called Romans, while those who believed in a heavenly king were termed Christians, bearing on their foreheads the sign of victory over death."
The ecumenical range of the Roman empire is, therefore, a Statanic aping of Christianity. As the demons purloined Christian philosophy and aped the Christian cultus and sacraments, so also did they perpetrate a plagiarism against the church by founding the great imperial state of Rome! This is the self-consciousness of Christendom expressed in perhaps the most robust, but also in the most audacious form imaginable! The real cosmopolitan character of Christianity is stated by Octavius (Min. Felix, 33.) thus: <l>"Nos gentes nationesque distinguimus: deo una domus est mundus hic tutus"<l> (" We draw distinctions between nations and races, but to God the whole of this world is one household ").
Origen's political views are more accurate, but how extravagant are his
ideas! In chapters 67.-75. of his eighth book against Celsus, by dint of a fresh
interpretation given to a primitive Christian conception, and a recourse to a
Platonic idea, he propounds the idea that the church, this <g>ko/smos tou=
kosmou=<g> (in Joh., 6.38), or universe of the universe, is the future
kingdom of the whole world, destined to embrace the Roman empire and humanity
itself, to amalgamate and to replace the various realms of this world.. Cp. ch.
68.: " For if, in the words of Celsus, all were to do as we do, then there is no
doubt whatever that even the barbarians would become law-abiding and humane, so
soon as they obeyed the Word of God; then would all religions vanish, leaving
that of Christ alone to reign. And reign it will one day, as the Word never
ceases to gain soul after soul." This means the reversal of the primitive
Christian hope. The church now presents itself as the civilizing and cohesive
power which is to create, even in the present age, a state that shall embrace an
undivided humanity. Origen, of course, is not quite sure whether this is
feasible in the present age. No further away than ch. 72., a propos of the question (to which Celsus gave
a negative answer) whether Asia, Europe, and Libya, Greeks and barbarians alike,
could agree to recognize one system of laws, we find him writing as follows:
"Perhaps," he says, " such a result would not indeed be possible to those who
are still in the body; but it would not be impossible to those who are released
from the body" (<g>Ka~ TUXU ~XjOc7is arSuvaTov (€V T~ ToLoUTo TO' []
0W/LWTI, or) /.Lw ciswaTov Kac avroXvOew-rv auTwv<g>).\29/ In II.30.
he writes : "In the days of Jesus, righteousness arose and fulness of peace,
beginning with his birth. God prepared the nations for his teaching, by causing
the Roman emperor to rule over all the world; there was no longer to be a
plurality of kingdoms, else would the nations have been strangers to one
another, and so the apostles would have found it harder to carry out the task
laid on them by Jesus, when he said, 'Go and teach all nations.'"
\29/ I do not understand, any more than Origen did, the political twaddle which Celsus (71.) professes to have heard from a Christian. It can hardly have come from a Christian, and it is impossible nowadays to ascertain what underlay it. I therefore pass it by.
In his reply to Celsus (III.29.-30.), this great father of the church, who
was at the same time a great and sensible statesman, submits a further political
consideration, which is not high-flown this time, but sober. It has also the
advantage of being impressive and to the point. Although the passage is somewhat
lengthy. I quote it here, as there is nothing like it in the literature of early
Christianity [Greek text in Hist. Dogma
"Apollo, according to Celsus, required the Metapontines to consider Aristeas as a god. But the Metapontines considered Aristeas was a man, and perhaps not even a respectable man, and this conviction of theirs seemed to them more valid than the declaration of the oracle that Aristeas was a god and deserving of divine honor. Consequently they would not obey Apollo, and no one regarded Aristeas as a god. But with regard to Jesus, we may say that it proved a blessing to the human race to acknowledge him as God's son, as God appearing in a human soul and body... God, who sent Jesus, brought to nought all the conspiracies of the demons and gave success to the gospel of Jesus over the whole earth for the conversion and amelioration of mankind, causing churches everywhere to be established, which should be ruled by other laws than those of superstitious, licentious, and evil men. For such is the character of the masses who constitute the assemblies throughout the various towns. Whereas, the churches or assemblies of God, whom Christ instructs, are 'lights in the world,' compared to the [] assemblies of the districts among which they live as strangers. For who would not allow that even the inferior members of the church, and such as take a lower place when judged by the standard of more eminent Christians -- even these are far better people than the members of profane assemblies?
"Take the church of God at Athens; it is a peaceable and orderly body, as it desires to please God, who is over all. Whereas the assembly of the Athenians is refractory, nor can it be compared in any respect to the local church or assembly of God. The same may be said of the church of God at Corinth and the local assembly of the people, as also of the church of God at Alexandria and the local assembly in that city. And if any candid person hears this and examines the facts of the case with a sincere love for the truth, he will admire him who conceived the design and was able to realize it, establishing churches of God to exist as strangers amid the popular assemblies of the various cities. Furthermore, if one compares the council of the Church of God with that of the cities, one by one, it would be found that many a councillor of the church is worthy to be a leader in God's city, if such a city exists in the world; whereas other councillors in all parts of the world show not a trait of conduct to justify the superiority born of their position, which seems to give them precedence over their fellow-citizens. Such also is the result of any comparison between the president of the church in any city and the civic magistrates. It will be found that, in the matter of conduct, even such councillors and presidents of the church as are extremely defective arid indolent compared to their more energetic colleagues, are possessed of virtues which are in general superior to those of civic councillors and rulers."
At this point I shall break off the present part of our investigation. The evidence already brought forward will suffice to give some idea of how Christians held themselves to be the new People and the third race of mankind, and also of the inferences which they drew from these conceptions. But how did the Greeks and Romans regard this phenomenon of Christianity with its enormous claims? This is a question to which justice must be done in an excursus.
CHRISTIANS AS A THIRD RACE, IN THE JUDGMENT OF THEIR OPPONENTS
For a proper appreciation of the Greek and Roman estimate of Christianity, it is essential, in the first instance, to recollect how the Jews were regarded and estimated throughout the empire, since it was generally known that the Christians had emanated from the Jews.
Nothing is more certain than that the Jews were distinguished throughout the Roman empire as a special people in contrast to all others. 'Their imageless worship (<g>a)qeo/ths<g>), their stubborn refusal to participate in other cults, together with their exclusiveness (<g>a)mici/a<g>), marked them off from all nations as a unique people.\1/ This uniqueness was openly acknowledged by the [] legislation of Caesar. Except for a brief period, the Jews were certainly never expected to worship the emperor.. Thus they stood alone by themselves amid all the other races who were included in, or allied to, the Roman empire. The blunt formula "We are Jews" never occurs in the Greek and Roman literature, so far as I know;\2/ but the fact was there, i.e., the view was widely current that the Jews were a national phenomenon by themselves, deficient in those traits which were common to the other nations.\3/ Furthermore, in every province and town the Jews, and the Jews alone, kept themselves aloof from the neighboring population by means of their constitutional position and civic demeanour. Only, this very uniqueness of character was taken to be a defect in public spirit and patriotism, as well as an insult and a disgrace, from Apollonius Molon aiid Posidonius down to Pliny, Tacitus, and later authors,\4/ although one or two of the more intelligent writers did not miss the "philosophic" character of the Jews.\5/
\1/ There were also their special customs
(circumcision, prohibition of swine's flesh, the sabbath, etc.), but these did
not contribute so seriously as <g>a)qeo/ths<g> and
<g>a)mici/a<g> to establish the character of the Jews for
uniqueness; for customs either identical or somewhat similar were found among
other Oriental peoples as well. For <g>a)qeo/ths<g> (cp. my essay on
"The Charge of Atheism in the First Three Centuries," Texte u.
Unters., 28.4), see Pliny, Hist.
Nat., 13.4.46: <l>"gens contumelia numinum insignis"<l> (" a
race distinguished by its contempt for deities") ; Tacit., Hist., 5.5 : <l>"Judaei mente sola
unumque numen intellegunt . . . igitur nulla simulacra urbibus suis, nedum
templis sistunt ; non regibus haec adolatio non Caesaribus honor"<l> ("the
Jews conceive of their deity as one, by the mind alone ... hence there are no
images erected in their cities or even in their temples. 'This reverence is not
paid to kings, nor this honour to the Caesars") ; Juv,, Satir., 14.97: <l>"nil praeter nubes et
caeli numen adorant"<l> (" they venerate simply the clouds and the deity
of the sky "), etc. For <g>misanqrwpi/a<g> and
<g>a)mici/a<g>, see Tacit. (loc.cit.): <l>"Apud ipsos fides
obstinate, misericordia in promptu, sed adversus omnes alios hostile
odium"<l> (" Among themselves their honesty is inflexible, their
compassion quick to move, but to all other persons they show the hatred of
antagonism ") ; and earlier still, Apollonius Molon (in Joseph., Apion., 2.14). Cp. Schurer's Gesch. des jud. Volk., III.(p. 418 [Eng,
trans., II. 2.295].
\2/ Yet, cp. Episl. Aristeas, § I6 (ed. Wendland,
1900, p. 6) : <g>to\n pa/ntwn e)po/pthn kai/ kti/sthn qeo\n ou(=toi
se/bontai, (\n kai\ pa/ntes, (hmei=s de\ prosonoma/zontes e(te/rws Zh/=na kai\
\3/ In Egypt a clear-cut triple division obtained -- Egyptians, Greeks, and Jews. Cp. Schurer, III.(3), p. 23 [Eng, trans., II.2.231].
\4/ Apollonius Molon in Joseph., Apion., 2.15, The most stupid of the
barbarians, <g>a)qeoi, misa/nqrwpoi<g>; Seneca (in August., de Civil., vi.11), <l>"sceleratissima
gens"<l>; Tacitus (Hist., 5.8),
<l>"despectissinia pats servientium-taeterrima gens"<l>; Pliny
(loc. cit.), Marcus Aurelius (in Ammian, 22.5), and Caecilius (in Min. Felix, 10.), <l>''Judaeorum misers
\5/ Aristotle (according to Clearchus), <g>filo/sofoi para\ Su/rois<g>; Theophrastus (according to Porphyry), <g>(/ate filo/sofoi to\ ge/nos )/ontes<g> ; Strabo (16.2.35, pp. 760 f.) ; and Varro (in August., de Civit., 4.31).
Disengaging itself from this Jewish people, Christianity now encountered the
Greeks and Romans. In the case of Christians, some of the sources of offence
peculiar to the Jews were absent ; but the greatest offence of all appeared only
in heightened colors, viz., the <g>a)qioths<g> and the
<g>a)mici/a<g> (<g>misanqrwpia<g>). Consequently the
Christian religion was described as a <l>"superostitio nova et
malefica"<l> (Suet., Nero, 16), as a <l>"superstitio prava,
immodica"<l> (Plin., Ep.
10.96-97), as an <l>"exitiabilis superstitio"<l> (Tacit., Annal., 15.44), and as a <l>"vana et
demens superstitio"<l> (Min.Felix,
9), while the Christians themselves were characterized [] as <l>"per
flagitia invisi,"<l> and blamed for their <l>"odium generis
\6/ Tacitus (loc. cit.); cp. Tertull., Apol., 35., <l>"publici hostes"<l>; 37., <l>"hostes maluistis vocare generis humani Christianos"<l> (you prefer to call Christians the enemies of the human race) ; Minuc., 10., <l>"pravae religionis obscuritas"<l>; 8., <l>"homines deploratae, inlicitae ac desperatae factionis"<l> (reprobate characters, belonging to an unlawful and desperate faction) ; <l>"plebs profanae coniurationis"<l>; 9., <l>"sacraria taeterrima impiae citionis" <l>(abominable shrines of an impious assembly) ; <l>"eruenda et execranda consensio"<l> (a confederacy to be rooted out and detested).
Several sensible people during the course of the second century certainly
tooks a different view. Lucian saw in Christians half crazy, credulous fanatics,
yet he could not altogether refuse them his respect. Galen explained their
course of life as philosophic, and spoke of them in terms of high
esteem.\7/ Porphyry also treated them, and especially their theologians,
the gnostics and Origen, as respectable opponents.\8/ But the vast,
majority of authors persisted in regarding them as an utter abomination.
<l>"Latebrosa et lucifuga natio," cries the pagan Caecilius (in Minut. Felix, 8.f.), " in publicum muta, in angulis
garrula; templa ut busta despiciunt, deos despuunt, rident sacra . . occultis se
notis et insignibus noscunt et amant mutuo paene antequam noverint ....cur
nullas aras habent, templa nulla, nulla nota simulacra . . . . nisi illud quod
colunt et interprimunt, aut punieudum est aut pudendum? unde autem vel quis ille
aut ubi deus unicus, solitarius, destitutus, quem non [] gees libera, non
regna, non saltem Romana superstitio noverunt? Judaeorum sola et misera
gentilitas unum et ipsi deum, sed palam, sed templis, aris, victimis
caeremoniisque coluerunt, cuius adeo nulla vis ac potestas est, ut sit Romanis
numinibus cum sua sibi natione captivus. At iam Christiani quanta monstra, quae
portenta confingunt."<l> \9/ What people saw -- what Caecilius saw before
him -- was a descending series, with regard to the numina and cultus: first
Romans, then Jews, then Christians.
\7/The passage is extant only in the Arabic (see above, p. 212).
\8/ Of the historical basis of the Christian religion and its sacred books in the New Testament, Porphyry and the Neoplatonists in general formed no more favourable opinion than did Celsus, while even in the Old Testament they found (agreeing thus far with the Christian gnostics) a great deal of folly and falsehood. The fact is, no one, not even Celsus, criticised the gospel history so keenly and disparagingly as Porphyry. Still, much that was to be found in the books of Moses and in John appeared to them of value. Further, they had a great respect for the Christian philosophy of religion, and endeavoured in all seriousness to come to terms with it, recognizing that it approximated more nearly than that of the gnostics to their own position. The depreciatory estimate of the world and the dualism which they found in gnosticism seemed to them a frivolous attack upon the Godhead. Per contra Porphyry says of Origen : ''His outward conduct was that of a Christian and unlawful. But he thought like a Greek in his views of matter and of God, and mingled the ideas of the Greeks with foreign fables" (in Eus., H.E., 6.19). On the attitude of Plotinus towards the gnosis of the church and gnosticism, cp. Karl Schmidt in Texte u. Unters., N.F. 5., part 4.
\9/ "A people who skulk and shun the light of day, silent in public but talkative in holes and corners. They despise the temples as dead-houses, they scorn the gods, they mock sacred things . . . . they recognize each other by means of secret tokens and marks, and love each other almost before they are acquainted. Why have they no altars, no temples, no recognized images .... unless what they worship and conceal deserves punishment or is something to be ashamed of? Moreover, whence is he, who is he, where is he, that one God, solitary and forsaken, whom no free people, no realm, not even a Roman superstition, has ever known? The lonely and wretched race of the Jews worshipped one God by themselves, but they did it openly, with temples, altars, victims, and ceremonies, and he has so little strength and power that he and all his nation are in bondage to the deities of Rome! But the Christians! What marvels, what monsters, do they feign! "
So monstrous, so repugnant are those Christians (of whose faith and life
Caecilius proceeds to tell the most evil tales), that they drop out of ordinary
humanity, as it were. Thus Caecilius indeed calls them a "natio," but he knows
that they are recruited from the very dregs of the nations, and consequently are
no " people" in the sense of a "nation." The Christian Octavius has to defend
them against this charge of being a non-human phenomenon, and Tertullian goes
into still further details in his Apology and in his address ad Nationes. In both of these writings the
leading idea is the refutation of the charge brought against Christianity, of
being something exceptional and utterly inhuman. <l>"Alia nos opinor,
natura, Cyropennae [Cynopae?] aut Sciapodes,"<l> we read in Apol., 8., <l>"alii ordines dentium,
alii ad incestam libidinem nervi? .... homo est enim et Christianus et quod et
tu"<l> (" We are of a different nature, I suppose! Are we Cyropennae or
Sciapodes? Have we different teeth, different organs for incestuous lust? . .
Nay, a Christian too is a man, he is whatever you are." In Apol.,16., Tertullian is obliged to refute
wicked lies told about Christians which, if true, would make Christians out to
be quite [] an exceptional class of human beings. Whereas, in reality,
<l>"Christiani homines suet vobiscum degentes, eiusdem victus, habitus,
instructus, eiusdem ad vitam necessitatis. neque enim Brachmanae aut Indorum
gymnosophistae sumus, silvicolae et exules vitae .. . . si caeremonias tuas non
frequento, attamen et illa die homo
sum"<l> (Apol. 42.: "Christian men
live beside you, share your food, your dress, your customs, the same necessities
of life as you do. For we are neither Brahmins nor Indian gymnosophists,
inhabiting the woods, and exiles from existence. If I do not attend your
religious ceremonies, none the less am I a human being on the sacred day").
<l>"Cum concutitur imperium, concussis etiam ceteris membris eius utique
et nos, licit extranci a turbis
aestimemur, \10/ in aliquo loco casus invenimur"<l> (Apol., 31.: " When the state is disturbed and
all its other members affected by the disturbance, surely we also are to be
found in some spot or another, although we are
supposed to live aloof from crowds." It is evident also from the
nicknames and abusive epithets hurled at them, that Christians attracted
people's attention as something entirely strange (cp., e.g., Apol. 1.).
\10/ Hence the request made to Christians is quite intelligible : " Begone from a world to which you do not belong, and trouble us not." Cp. the passage already cited from Justin's Apol., II. 4., where Christians are told by their opponents, <g>,ra'pT€s ~aurovs /opmioavres rO t soOam ff&s lrap& ~~v Orv ical (Jm1V 1rp~y/aru si) ~~p~xerr<g>. Tertullian relates (ad Scap, 5.) how Arrius Antoninus, the proconsul of Asia, called out to the Christians who crowded voluntarily to his tribunal in a time of persecution, "You miserable wretches; if you want to die, you have precipices and ropes." Celsus (in Orig., c. Cels., VIII. 15.) writes : "If Christians decline to render due honor to the gods or to respect those appointed to take charge of the religious services, let them not grow up to manhood or marry wives or have children or take any part in the affairs of this life, but rather be off with all speech, leaving no posterity behind them, that such a race may become utterly extinct on earth." Hatred of the empire and emperor, and uselessness from the economic standpoint -- these were standing charges against Christians, charges which the apologists (especially Tertullian) were at great pains to controvert. Celsus tries to show Christians that they were really trying to cut off the branch on which they sat (VIII. 68.): "Were all to act as you do, the emperor would soon be left solitary and forlorn, and affairs world presently fall into the hands of the wildest and most lawless barbarians. Then it would be all over with the glory of your worship and the true wisdom among men" As the Christians were almost alone among religionists in being liable to this charge of enmity to the empire, they were held responsible by the populace, as everybody knows, for any great calamities that occurred. The passages in Tertullian bearing on this point are quite familiar; but one should also compare the parallel statements in OrigEn (in Matt. Comment Ser., 39.). Henceforth Christians appear a special group by themselves. Maximinus Daza, in his rescript to Sabinus (Eus., H.E.., 9.9), speaks of the <g>e)/qnos tw=n Xristianw=n<g> (the nation of the Christians), and the edict of Galerius reluctantly admits that Christians succeeded in combining the various nations into a relative unity by means of their commandments (Eus., H.E., 8.17.7) : <g>~ooavr~~ aIroi's ir~eos*t(a 7rap€O, CEm gal Psia gar )d71' oy cis z tlrrcrOa, ~ojs i',Tb 7(55 ,i Xam ,Ca7a~E XO0 TmP . . . . &X/~ sara ,4p e,'rrwv srpdO€mv ical iis tgaaTss ~$oiiAero, SIras ~aurOts Sal vd~o~s sromflaam Sal TOOT 001 7rap4JuA~rTEms Sal is iia~~poms ~md4opa ,rxsOsj ouvysmv<g> (" Such arrogance had seized them and such senselessness had mastered them, that instead of following the institutions of their ancestors .. . . they framed laws for themselves according to their own purpose, as each desired, and observed these laws, and thus held various gatherings in various places ").
In his two books ad Nations, no less than in the Apology, all these arguments also find contemporary expression. Only in the former one further consideration supervenes, which deserves [] special attention, namely, the assertion of Tertullian that Christians were called "genus tertium" (the Third race) by their opponents. The relevant passages are as follows :
Ad Nat., I.8.: <l>"Plane, tertium genus dicimur. An Cyropennae aliqui vel Sciapodes vel aliqui de subterraneo Antipodes? Si qua istic apud vos saltem ratio est, edatis velim primum et secundum genus, ut its de tertio constet. Psammetichus quidem putavit sibi se de ingenio exploravisse prima generis. dicitur enim infantes recenti e partu seorsum a commercio hominum alendos tradidisse nutrici, quam et ipsam propterea elinguaverat, ut in totum exules vocis humanae non auditu formarent loquellam, sed de suo promentes eam primam nationem designarent cuius sonum natura dictasset. Prima vox 'beccos' renuntiata est; interpretatio eius 'panis' apud Phrygas nomen est; Phryges primunt genus exinde habeutur . . sint nunc primi Phryges, non tamen tertii Christiani. Quantae enim aliae gentium series post Phrygas? verum recogitate, ne quos tertium genus dicitis principem locum obtineant, siquidem non ulla gens non Christiana. itaque quaecunque gens prima, nihilominus Christiana. ridicula dementia novissimos diciti et tertios nominatis. sed de superstitione tertium genus deputamur, non de natione, ut sint Romani, Judaei, dehinc Christiani. ubi autemn Graeci ? vel si in Romanorum suberstitionibus censentur, quoniam quidem etiam deos Graeciae Roma sollicitavit, ubi [] saltem AEgyptii, et ipsi, quod sciam, privatae curiosaeque religionis? porro si tam monstruosi, qui tertii loci, quales habendi, qui primo et secundo antecedent?"<l> (" We are indeed called the third race of men! Are we monsters, Cyropennae, or Sciopades, or some Antipodeans from the underworld? If these have any meaning for you, pray explain the first and second of the races, that we may thus learn the 'third.' Psamrnetichus thought he had ingeniously hit upon primeval man. He removed, it is said, some newly born infants from all human intercourse and entrusted their upbringing to a nurse whom he had deprived of her tongue, in order that being exiled entirely from the sound of the human voice, they might form their words without hearing it, and derive them from their own nature, thus indicating what was the first nation whose language was originally dictated by nature. The first word they uttered was 'beccos,' the Phrygian word for bread. The Phrygians, then, are held to be the first race... If, then, the Phrygians are the first race, still it does not follow that the Christians are the third. For how many other races successively came after the Phrygians? But take heed lest those whom you call the third race take first place, since there is no nation which is not Christian. Whatever nation, therefore, is the first, is nevertheless Christian now. It is senseless absurdity for you to call us the latest of nations and then to dub us the Third. But, you say, it is on the score of religion and not of nationality that we are considered to be third; it is the Romans first, then the Jews, and after that the Christians. What about the Greeks then? Or supposing that they are reckoned among the various Roman religions (since it was from Greece that Rome borrowed even her deities), where do the Egyptianis at any rate come in, since they possess a religion which, so far as I know, is all their own, and full of secrecy? Besides, if those who occupy the third rank are such monsters, what must we think of those who precede them in the first and second?").
Further, in ad Nat., I.20. (after showing that the charges brought against Christians recoil upon their adversaries the heathen), Tertuilian proceeds : <l>"Habetis et vos tertium genus etsi non de tertio ritu, attamem de tertio sexu. Illud aptius de [] viro et femina viris et feminis iunctunm"<l> ("You too have your third race' [i.e., of eunuchs], though it is not in the way of a third religion, but of a third sex. Made up of male and female in conjunction, it is better suited to pander to men and women!")
Add also a passage fromn the treatise Scorpiace (10.: a word to heretics who shunned martyrdom):<l> " Illic constitues et synagogas Judaeorum fortes persecutionum, apud quas apostoli flagella perpessi sunt, et populos nationum cum suo quidem circo, ubi facile conclamant : 'Usque quo genus tertium?'"<l> (" Will you set up there [i.e., in heaven] also synagogues of the Jews --which are fountains of persecution -- before which the apostles suffered scourging, and heathen crowds with their circus, forsooth, where all are ready to shout, 'How long are we to endure this third race? '").
From these passages we infer :
i. That "the third race" (genus tertium) as a designation of Christians on the lips of the heathen was perfectly common in Carthage about the year 200. Even in the circus people cried, <l>"Usque quo genus tertium?"<l>
ii. That this designation referred exclusively to the Christian method of conceiving and worshipping God. The Greeks, Romans, and all other nations passed for the first race (genus primum), in so far as they mutually recognized each other's gods or honoured foreign gods as well as their own, and had sacrifices amid images. The Jews (with their national God, their exclusiveness, and a worship which lacked images but included sacrifice) constituted the second race (genus alterum).\11/ The Christians, again (with.their spiritual God, their lack of images and sacrifices, amid the contempt for the gods -- contemnere deos -- which they shared with the Jews"), formed the Third race (genus tertium).\12/
\11/ Cp. ad
\12/ Cp. what is roundly asserted in ad Nat., I.8.: "It is on the score of religion and not of nationality that we are considered to be third ; it is the Romans first, then the Jews, and after that the Christians." Also, I.20.: <l>"Tertium genus [dicimur] de ritu"<l> (" We are called a third race on the ground of religion") It seems to me utterly impossible to suppose that Tertullian might have been mistaken in this interpretation of the title in question.
iii. When Tertullian talks as if the whole system of classification [] could denote the chronological series of the nations, it is merely a bit of controversial dialectic. Nor has the designation of a "the Third race" (genus tertium) anything whatever to do either with the virginity of Christians, or, on the other hand, with the sexual debaucheries set down to their credit.\13/
\13/ Passages may indeed be pointed out in which either virginity (or unsexual character) or unnatural lust is conceived as "genus tertium" (a third race), or as a race (genus) in general (Tertull., de Virg. Vel., 8.: <l>"Si caput mulieris vir est, ubique et virginis, de qua fit mulier illa quae nupsit, nisi virgo tertium genus est monstrosum aliquod sui capitis."<l> ''If the man is the head of the woman, he is also the head of the virgin, for out of a virgin comes the woman who marries ; unless she is some monstrosity with a head of its own, a third race"). Cp. op cit., 5., where the female sex is "genus secundi hominis"; pseudo-Cypr., de Pudic., 7., "Virginitas neutrius est sexes"; and Clem. Alex., Paedag., II. 10.85,<g> oH dap ai~oZa f i& it ~awa appwos Sal O5 AEos, saOl s IiTE(A,14aef TwEs, ~p~a~poSi-ws r paroAovvtes hat Tpirflv Tatirflv sEra[v Oij cfas Sal &ppvoe avpd.yvvov KawoTo/SoUv7€s ~Ga.w <g> [a similar sexual analogy]. Cp., on the other hand, op. cit., I. 4, 11, where there is a third condition common to both sexes, viz., that of being human beings and also children; also Lampridius, Alex. Sever., 23.: <l>"Idemu tertium genus hominum eunuchos dicebat"<l> (" He said eunuchs were a third race of mankind "). Obviously, however, such passages are irrelevant to the point now under discussion.
All these results \14/ were of vital importance to the impression made by Christianity (and Judaism \15/) upon the pagan world. As early as the opening of the second century Christians designate their religion as "the third method" of religion (cp. the [] evidence above furnished by the Preaching of Peter), and frankly declare, about the year 240 A.D., "We are the third race of mankind" (cp. the evidence of the treatise de Pascha Computus).\16/ Which proves that the pagans did borrow this conception, and that (even previously to 200 A.D.) they described the Jews as the second and the Christians as the third race of men.\17/ This they did for the same reason as the Christians, on account of the nature of the religion in question.
\15/ I add, Judaism -- for hitherto in our discussion we could not determine with absolute certainty whether any formula was current which distinguished the Jews from all other peoples with regard to their conception and worship of God. Now it is perfectly plain. The Jews ranked in this connection as an independent magnitude, a ''genus alterum."
\16/ It is now clear that we were right in conjecturing above that the Romans were to pseudo-Cyprian the first race, and the Jews the second, as opposed to the Third race.
It is indeed amazing! One had certainly no idea that in the consciousness of the Greeks and Romans the Jews stood out in such bold relief from the other nations, and the Christians from both, or that they represented themselves as independent "genera," and were so described in an explicit formula. Neither Jews nor Christians could look for any ample recognition, little as the demarcation was intended as a recognition at all.\18/
\18/ Thanks to Varro, who had a genius for classification, people had been accustomed among literary circles, in the first instance, to grade the gods and religions as well. Perhaps it was under the influence of his writings (and even Tertullian makes great play with them in his treatise ad Nationes) that the distinction of Jews and Christians as "the second and third ways" obtained primarily among the learned, and thence made its way gradually into the minds of the common people. It is utterly improbable that this new classification was influenced by the entirely different distinction current among the Egyptians (see above), of the three <g>ge/nh<g> (Egyptians, Greeks, and Jews). Once it was devised, the former conception must have gone on working with a logic of its own, setting Judaism and Christianity in a light which was certainly not intended at the outset. It developed the conception of three circles, of three possible religions! Strangely enough, Tertullian never mentions the''genus tertium" in his Apology, though it was contemporaneous with the ad Nationes. Was the fact not of sufficient importance to him in encountering a Roman governor?
The polemical treatises against Christians prove that the triple formula "Romans, etc., Jews, and Christians" was really never absent from the minds of their opponents. So far as we are [] acquainted with these treatises, they one and all adopt this scheme of thought: the Jews originally parted company with all other nations, and after leaving the Egyptians, they formed an ill-favoured species by themselves, while it is from these very Jews that the Christians have now broken off, retaining all the worst features of Judaism and adding loathsome and repulsive elements of their own. Such was the line taken by Celsus, Porphyry, and Julian in their anti-Christian writings. Celsus speaks of the <g>ge/nos<g> of the Jews, and opposes both <g>ge/nh<g> in the sharpest manner to all other nations, in order to show that when Christians, as renegade Jews, distinguish themselves from this <g>ge/nos<g>--a <g>ge/nos<g> which is, at least, a people - they do so to their own loss. He characterizes Christians (8.2.) as <g>L7roTctXiOpTec c €OUTotJs Kat a7ropp?yVUVTec (ZTO TWv Xot7r w (xvOpw7rwv<g> (" people who separate themselves and break away front the rest of mankind "). For all that, everything in Christianity is simply plagiarized from a plagiarism, or copied from a copy. Christians per se have no new teaching (<g>ma/qhma<g>, 1.4. ; ep. II.5. and IV.14.). That they have any teaching at all to present, is simply clue to the fact that they have kept back the worst thing of all, viz., their <g>GTOOIcz few 7rp~c TO KOLVOV<g> (" their revolt against the common weal ").\19/ Porphyry -- who, I imagine, is the antiChristian controversialist before the mind of Eusebius \20/ -- in his Preparaio, 1.2, begins by treating Christians as a sheer impossibility, inasmuch as they will not and do not belong to the Greeks or to the barbarians. Then he goes on to say : <g>KUI ULT() T( aapa Iov&uotc TtfLOV/J.€Vp Deep KUTU Ta ,rap' UUTO1' rpoavcn v4et,ua, ,cawi)v ~~ Twa ,cu ~pm7,w7v avo&av ~uv~oic (TUPTEMCVI L1TE TU EXXii' ,LLJjT€ TU 'I0V&/tWV /)uX(TTou~ap <g>(" Nor do they adhere to the rites of the God worshipped by the Jews according to their customs, but fashion some new and solitary vagary for themselves of which there is no trace in Hellenism or Judaism "). So that he also gives the triple classification. Finally, Julian (Neumann, p.164) likewise [] follows the division of <g>(/Ellhnes, )Ioudai=oi, and Galilai=oi<g>. The Galileans are neither Greeks nor Jews; they have come from the Jews, but have separated from them and struck out a path of their own. "They have repudiated every noble amid significant idea current among us Greeks, and among the Hebrews who are descended from Moses; yet they have lifted from both sources everything that adhered to these imitations like an ill-omened demon, taking their godlessness from the levity of the Jews, and their careless and lax way of living from our own thoughtlessness and vulgarity."
\19/ The <g>tri/ton ge/nos<g> Celsus mentions rather obscurely in V.61. has nothing to do with the third race which is our present topic. It refers to distinctions within Christianity itself.
\20/ Cp. von Wilamowitz-Moellendorf in the Zeitschrift fur neutestamentliche
Wissenschaft, i. 2, pp. 101 f.
Plainly, then, Greek and Jews and Christians were distinguished throughout upon the ground of religion, although the explicit formula of "the third race" occurs only in the West. After the middle of the third century, both empire and emperor learnt to recognize and dread the third race of worshippers as a" nation," as well as a race. They were a state within the state. The most instructive piece of evidence in this connection is the account of Decius given by Cyprian (Ep. 55.9): <l>" Multo patientius et tolerabilius audivit levari adversus se aemulum principem quam constitui Romae dei sacerdotem"<l> (" He would hear of a rival prince being set up against himself with far more patience and equaninmity than of a priest of God being appointed at Rome"). The terrible edict issued by this emperor for the persecution of Christians is in the first instance the practical answer given by the state to the claims of the "New People" and to the political view advocated by Melito and Origen. The inner energy of the new religion comes out in its self-chosen title of "the New People" or "the Third race" just as plainly as in the testimony extorted from its opponents, that in Christianity a new genus of religion had actually emerged side by side with the religions of the nations and of Judaism. It does not afford much direct evidence upon the outward spread and strength of Christianity, for the former estimate emerged, asserted itself, and was recognized at an early period, when Christians were still, in point of numbers, a comparatively small society.\21/ But it must have been [[ 278]] of the highest importance for the propaganda of the Christian religion, to be so distinctly differentiated from all other religions and to have so lofty a consciousness of its own position put before the world.\22/ Naturally this had a repelling influence as well on certain circles. Still it was a token of power, and power never fails to succeed.
\21/ They could not have been utterly insignificant, however; otherwise this estimate would be incredible. In point of numbers they must have already rivalled the Jews at any rate.
\22/ Judaism already owed no small amount of her propaganda to her apologetic and, within her apologetic, to the valuation of herself which it developed. Cp. Schurer, Gesch. des Volkes Israel, 111.3), pp. 107 f. [Eng. trans., II. 249 f.].