The Mission and Expansion of Christianity in the First Three Centuries

by Adolph (von) Harnack
translated and edited by James Moffatt
Second, enlarged and revised English edition;
London: Williams and Norgate / New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1908 (from the 2nd German edition)..
Theological Translation Library, volumes 19-20

From the German, Die Mission und Ausbreitung des Christentums in den ersten drei Jahrhunderten (1902, revised 1906, 1915, and finally 1924)

[[being updated (also consulting the 4th German edition) and adapted by RAK for use in 2004 America; Greek needs to be inserted, etc.]

[Harnack bk3 ch1, 369- scanned by Moises Bassan, March 2004]

[CHAPTER I needs to be inserted]



\1/ Cp. Zahn's Weltkehr and Kirche wahrend der drei ersten jahrhunderte (1877) ; Ramsay in Expositor, vol. viii., Dec. 1903, pp. 401 f. ("Travel and Correspondence among the Early Christians ") [also reproduced in his Letters to the Seven Churches, 1904, ch. i. ], his Church: in the Roman Entfiire, pp. 364 f., and his article on "Travel" in Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. "It is the simple truth that travelling, whether for business or for pleasure, was contemplated and performed under the empire with an indifference, confidence, and, above all, certainty which were unknown in after centuries until the introduction of steamers and the conse­quent increase in ease and sureness of communication." Compare the direct and indirect evidence of Philo, Acts, Pliny, Appian, Plutarch, Epictetus, Aristides, etc. lren., iv. 30. 3 : " Mundus pacem habet per Romanos, et nos sine timore in viis ambulamus et navigamus quocumquc voluerimus" (" The world enjoys peace, thanks to the Romans, and we can travel by road and sea wherever we wish, unafraid"). One merchant boasts, in an inscription on a tomb at Hierapolis in Phrygia, that lie voyaged from Asia to Rome seventy-two times (C.LG., 3920). The author of Acts treats Paul's journey from -Ephesus to Jerusalem and his return by land as a simple excursion (xviii. 21-32). No excessive length of time was needed to cover the distances.. In twelve days one could reach Alexandria from Neapolis, in seven from Corinth. With a favourable wind, the voyage from Narbo in Southern France to Africa occupied only five days (Sulpic. Sever., Dial., i. 3) ; from the Syrtes to Alexandria took six days (ibid., i. 6). The journey by land from Ephesus to Antioch in Syria certainly took a month (cp. Evagrius, Hist. Eccles., i. 3) ; but there were rapid messengers who traversed the empire' with incredible speed. Of one it is said (Socrates, H.E., vii. 1g), οντσs ό Παλλάδιοs μεγίστην ο ύσαν τών ' Ρωμαίων άρχήν μικράν έδειξε τή ταχντητι ("This Palledius made the huge empire of Rome seem small by his speed "). Cp. Friedlander's Sittengeschichte (vol. ii., at the beginning). For the letters, cp. Deissmann's Bible Studies (Eng. trans., 1gol) and Wehofer's Untersuch. cur altchristl. Epistolographie (in " Wiener akad. Sitzungsber., Philos.-Hist. Klasse, cxliii., 1901," pp. 102 f). Norden (Antike Kunstprosa, p. 492) observes : "The epistolary literature, even in its artless forms, had a far greater right to exist, according to the ideas of the age, than we can understand at the present day. The epistle gradually became a literary form into which any material, even of a scientific nature, could be thrown loosely and freely."

THE apostles, as well as many of the prophets, travelled un­ceasingly in the interests of their mission. The journeys of Paul from Antioch to Rome, and probably to Spain, lie in the clear light of history, but-to judge from his letters-his fellow-workers and companions were also continually on the [370] move, partly along with him, and partly on their own account.\2/ One thinks especially of that missionary couple, Aquila and Priscilla. To study and state in detail the journeys of Paul and the rest of these missionaries would lead us too far afield, nor would it be relevant to our immediate purpose. Paul felt that the Spirit of God drove him on, revealing his route and destination; but this did not supersede the exercise of delibera­tion and reflection in his own mind, and evidences of the latter may be found repeatedly throughout his travels. Peter also journeyed as a missionary; he too reached Rome.

\2/ Read the sixteenth chapter of Romans in particular, and see what a number of Paul's acquaintances were in Rome.

However, what interests us at present is not so much the travels of the regular missionaries as the journeys undertaken by other prominent Christians, -from which we may learn the vitality of personal communication and intercourse throughout the early centuries. In this connection the Roman church became surprisingly prominent. The majority of the Christians with whose travels we are acquainted made it their goal.\3/

\3/ See Caspari, Quellen z. Taufsymbol, vol. iii. (1875).

Justin, Hegesippus, Julius Africanus, and Origen were Christian teachers who were specially travelled men, i.e., men who had gone over a large number of the churches. Justisr, who came from Samaria, stayed in Ephesus and Rome. Hege­sippus reached Rome via Corinth after starting, about the middle of the second century, on an Eastern tour occupying several years, during which lie visited many of the churches. Julius Africanus from Ernmaus in Palestine also appeared in Edessa, Rome, and Alexandria. But the most extensive travels were those of Origen, who, from Alexandria and Cwsarea (in Palestine) respectively, made his appearance in Sidon, Tyre,. Bostra, Antioch, Cs sarea (in Cappadocia), Nikomedia, Athens, Nicopolis, Rome, and other cities\4/ (sometimes more than once). [371]

\4/ Abercius turned up at Rome and on the Euphrates from Hieropolis in Phrygia.

The following notable Christians\5/ journeyed from abroad to Rome:­

Shortly after the middle of the second century, Melito of Sardes journeyed to Palestine (Eus., HE., iv. 26), as did Alexander from Cappadocia (Eus., H.E., vi. 11) and Pionius froth Smyrna (about the middle of the third century : see the Acta Pionii) ; Julius Africanus travelled to Alexandria (Eus., H.E., vi. 31); Hermogenes, a heretic, emigrated from the East to Carthage (Theophilus of Antioch opposed him, as did Ter­tullian); Apelles went from Rome to Alexandria (Tert., de Prwscr., xxx.) ; during the Decian persecution and afterwards, Roman Christians were despatched to Carthage (see Cyprian's epistles); at the time of Valerian's persecution, several Roman brethren were in Alexandria (Dionys. Alex., cited by Euseb., HE., vii. 11); while Clement of Alexandria got the length of Cappadocia (Eus., HE., vi. 11). This list is incomplete, but it will give some idea of the extent to which the travels of prominent teachers promoted intercommunication.

As for the exchange of letters, \8/ I must content myself with noting the salient points. Here, too, the Roman church occupies the foreground. We know of the following letters and despatches issued from it :­-

Among the non-Roman letters are to be noted: those of Ignatius to the Asiatic churches and to Rome, that written by Polycarp of Smyrna to Philippi and other churches in the neighbourhood, the large collection of those written by Dionysius of Corinth (to Athens, Lacedoemon, Nicomedia, Crete, Pontus, Rome), the large collections of Origen's letters (no longer extant), of Cyprian's (to the African churches, to Rome, Spain, Gaul, Cappadocia), and of Novatian's (to a very large number of churches throughout all Christendom : no longer extant), and of those written by Dionysius of Alexandria (pre­served in fragments).\9/ Letters were sent from Cappadocia, Spain, and Gaul to Cyprian (Rome) ; the synod which gathered in Antioch to deal with Paul of Samosata, wrote to all the churches of Christendom ; and Alexander of Alexandria, as well [374]   as Arius,, wrote letters to a large number of churches in the Eastern empire.\10/


\9/ He even wrote to the brethren in Armenia.

\10/ Evidence for all these letters will be found in my Geschichte der altchristlichen Litteratur, vol. i.

The more important Christian writings also circulated with astonishing rapidity.\11/ Out of the wealth of material at our disposal, the following instances may be adduced:­


Numerous writings of the Roman Hippolytus were circulated throughout the East. What a large number of Christian writings were gathered from all parts of the world in the library at Cmesarea (in Palestine) is known to us from „the Church, History of Eusebius, which was written from the material in this collection. It is owing primarily to this library, which in its way formed a counterpart of the Alexandrian, that we possess to-day a coherent, though very limited, knowledge of Christian antiquity.\12/ And even previous to that, if one takes the trouble (and it is no trouble) to put together, from the writings of Celsus, Tertullian, Hippolytus, Clement of Alex­andria, and Origen, their library of Christian works, it becomes evident that they had access to an extensive range of Christian books from, all parts of the-church.

\12/ Compare on this point the two tables, given in my Litleratur-Geschichte, vol, i. pp. 883-886, of " Early Christian Greek Writings in old Latin Versions," and "Early Christian Greek Writings in old Syriac Versions." No writing is translated into a foreign language until it appears to be indispensable for the purposes of edification or of information. Compare, in the light of this, the extraordinary amount of early Christian literature which was translated at an early period into Latin or Syriac. It is particularly interesting to ascertain what writings were rendered into Latin as well as into Syriac. Their number was considerable, and this forms an unerring aid in answering the question, which of the early Christian writings were most widely circulated and most influential. Very little was trans lated into Greek from Latin (Tertullian's Afiology, Cyprian's epistles) in the pre­Constantine period.

These data are merely intended to give an approximate idea of how vital was the intercourse, personal and epistolary and literary, between the various churches, and also between promi­nent teachers of the day. It is not easy to exaggerate the significance of this fact foission and propaganda of Christianity. The co-operation, the brotherliness, and moreover [376] the mental activity of Christians, are patent in this con­nection, and they were powerful levers in the extension of -the cause. Furthermore, they must have made a powerful impression on the outside spectator, besides guaranteeing a certain unity in the development of the religion and ensuring the fact that when a Christian passed from the East to the West, or from one distant church to another, he never felt himself a stranger. Down to the age of Constantine, or at any rate until the middle of the third century, the centripetal forces in early Christianity . were, as a matter of fact, more powerful than the centrifugal. And Rome was the centre of the former tendencies. The Roman Church was the catholic church. It was more than the mere symbol and representative of Christian unity ; to it more than to any other Christians owed unity itself.

So far as I know, the technical side of the spread of early Christian literature has not yet been investigated, and any results that can be reached are far from numerous.\13/ We must realize, however, that a large number of these writings, not excluding the oldest and most important of them, together with almost all the epistolary literature, was never "edited" in the technical sense of the term-never, at any rate, until after some generations [377] had passed. There were no editions of the New Testament (or of the Old?) until Origen (i.e., the Theodotian), although Marcion's New Testament deserves to be called a critical re­vision and edition, while revised editions.were meant by those early fathers who bewailed the falsification of the Bible texts by the gnostics. For the large majority of early Christian writings the exemplars in the library at Caesarea served as the basis for editions (i.e., transcripts) from the fourth and fifth centuries onwards. Yet even after editions of the Scriptures were published they were frequently transcribed at will from some rough copy. From the outset the apologies, the works of the gnostics (which were meant for the learned), and any ecclesiastical writings designed, from Irenteus downwards, for the educated Christian public, were published and circulated. The first instance of a bishop collecting and editing his own letters is that of Dionysius of Corinth, during the reign of Marcus Aurelius (Eus., H.E., iv. 23).

\13/ Cp. however, what Sulpicius Severus (Dial., i. 23, in the light of iii. ry) says of his little volume on "The Life of S. Martin." Postumianus, the interrogator, says : "Nunquam a dextera mea liber iste discedit. nam si agnoscis, ecce -- et aperit librum qui veste latebat -- en ipsum 1 hic mihi, inquit, terra ac marl comes, hic in peregrinatione tota socius et consolator fuit. sed referam tibi sane, quo liber iste penetrarit, et quam nullus fere in orbe terrarum locus sit, ubi non nrateria tam felicis historiae pervulgata teneatur. primus eum Romanae urbi vir studiossimus tui Paulinus invexit; deinde cum tota certatim urbe raperetur, exultantes librarios vidi, quad nihil ab his quaestiosius haberetur, siquidem nihil ilia promptius, nihil carius venderetur. hic navigationis meae cursmn longe ante' praegressus, cum ad Africam veni, iam per totam Carthaginem legebatur. solus cum Cyrenensis ille presbyter non habebat, sed me largiente descripsit. nam quid ego de Alexandria loquar? ubi paene omnibus magis quam tibi notus est. hic Aegyptum, Nitriam, Thebaidain ac tota Memphitica regna transivit. hunc ego in eremo a quodam sene legi vidi," etc. (" That book never leaves my right hand. Look, said he-and he showed the book under his cloak-here it is, my com­panion by land and sea, my ally and comforter in all my wanderings. I'll tell you where it has penetrated ; let me tell you, pray, how there is no single spot where this blessed story is not known. Paulinus, your great admirer, brought it first to Rome. The whole city seized on it, and I found the booksellers in delight, because no demand was more profitable, no book sold so keenly and quickly as [377b] yours. I found it before me wherever I sailed. When I reached Africa, it was being read in Carthage. That presbyter of Cyrene did not only possess it; at my expense, he wrote it out. And what shall I say of Alexandria, where nearly everyone knows it better than you do yourself. Through Nitria, the Thebais, and all the Memphis district it has circulated. I saw it also being read in the desert by an old anchorite," etc. ). This refers, of course, to a book which appeared about 400 A.D., but the description, even when modified, is significant for an earlier period.

Unedited or unpublished writings were naturally exposed in a special degree to the risk of falsification. The church­fathers are full of complaints on this score. Yet even those which were edited were not preserved with due care.\14/ [378]

\14/ To give one or two instances. Dionysius of Corinth found that his letters were circulating in falsified shape even during his own lifetime ; lie comforts himself naively with the thought that even the Scriptures shared the same fate (so, apropos of Origen's writings, Sulpic. Sever., Dial., i. 7). Irenaeus adjures all future copyists of his works not to corrupt them, and to copy out his adjuration (Eus., HE., v. 20). But the most striking proof of the prevailing uncertainty in texts is afforded by the fact that only a century and a half after Cyprian an attempt was actually made to set aside all his letters on the baptism of heretics as forgeries. Augustine's remarks on the matter are quite as remarkable (Ep. xciii. 38). He regards the hypothesis as possible, though he does not agree with it : " Non desunt, qui hoc Cyprianum prorsus non sensisse contendant, sed, sub eius nonrine a prae­sumptoribus atque mendacihus fuisse confictum. neque enim sic potuit integritas atque notitia litterarum unius quamlibet inlustris episcopi custodivi quemadmodum scriptura canonica tot linguarum litteris et ordine ac succession celebrationis [378b] ecclesiasticae custoditur, contra, quam tamen non defuerat qui sub nominibus apostoloruni multa confingerent frustra quidem, quia illa sic commendata, sic celebrata, sic nota est" (" There are, indeed, some people who assert that Cyprian did not hold such opinions at all, but that the correspondence has been composed in his name by daring forgers. For the writings of a bishop, however distinguished, could not indeed be preserved in their integrity, like the holy canonical Scriptures, by ecclesiastical order and use and regular succession-though even here there have actually been people who issued many fabrications under the names of apostles. It was useless, however, for Scripture was too well attested, too well known, too familiar, to permit of them succeeding in their designs"). -1-low Tertullian fared with the second edition of his anti-Marcion, he tells us himself: " Haste composi­tionem nondum exevzplariis suffectavi fraude tune fratris, dehinc apostatae, amisi, qui forte descripserat quaedam mendosissime et exhibuit frequentiae" (" I lost it, before it was finally published, by the fraud of one who was then a Christian brother but afterwards apostatized. Ile happened to have transcribed part of it very inaccurately, and then he published it"). -Tire author of the Life of Polycarp observes that the works, sermons, and letters of that writer were pilfered during the persecution by the knavery of unbelievers.

To what extent the literature of Christianity fell into the hands of its opponents, is a matter about which we know next to nothing. Tertullian speaks quite pessimistically on the point (de Testim., i.), and Norden's verdict is certainly true (Kunstprosa, pp. 517 f.) : " We cannot form too low an estimate of the number of pagans who read the New Testament.... I believe I am correct in saying that pagans only read the New Testament when they wanted to refute it." Celsus furnished himself with quite a considerable Christian library, in which he studied deeply before he wrote against the Christians ; but it is merely a rhetorical phrase, when Athenagoras assumes (Suppl., ix.) that the emperors knew the Old Testament. The attitude of the apologists to the Scriptures, whether they are quoting them or not, shows that they do not pre­suppose any knowledge of their contents (Norden, loc. cit.). Writings of Origen were read by the Neoplatonist philosophers, who had also in their hands the Old Testament, the gospels, and the Pauline epistles. We may say the same of Porphyry and Arnelius. One great obstacle to the diffusion of the Scriptures lay in the Greek version, which was inartistic and offensive (from the point of view of style),\15/ but still more in [379] the old Latin version of the Bible, which in many parts was simply intolerable. How repellent must have been the effect produced, for example, by reading (Baruch ii. 29) "Dicens: si non audieritis vocis ineae, si sonos magnos hagininis iste avertatur in minima in gentibus, hubi dispergain ibi."\16/ Nor could Christianity in the West boast of writers whose work penetrated far into the general literature of the age, at a time when Origen and his pupils were forcing an entrance for them­selves. Lactantius, whose evidence is above suspicion,\17/ observes that in Latin society Christians were still considered "stulti " (Instit., v. I f.),\18/ and personally vouches for the lack of suitable and skilled teachers and authors; Minucius Felix and Tertullian could not secure "satis celebritatis," whilst, for all his admirable qualities as a speaker and writer, Cyprian "is unable to satisfy those who are ignorant of all but the words of our religion, since his language is mystical and designed only for the ears of the faithful. In short, the learned of this world who chance to [380 ] become acquainted with his writings are in the habit of deriding him. I myself once heard a really cultured person call him 'Coprianus' [dung-man] by the change of a single letter in his name, as if he had bestowed on old wives' fables a polished intellect which was capable of better things" (“ placere ultra verba sacramentum ignorantibus non potest, quoniam mystica hunt quae locutus est et ad id praeparata, ut a solis fidelibus audiantur : denique a doctis huius saeculi, quibus forte scripta eius innotuerant, derideri solet. audivi ego quendam hominen1 sane disertum, qui eum immutata una litera ' Coprianum' vocaret, quasi quod elegans ingenium et melioribus rebus aptum ad aniles fabulas contulisset ").

\15/ Nearly all the apologists (cp. even Clem. Alex., Protrept., viii. 77) tried to justify the "unadorned " style of the prophets, and thus to champion the defect. Origen (Ilom. viii. r, in Jesunz Nave, vol. xi. P. 74) observes : "We appeal to you, 0 readers of the sacred books, riot to hearken to their contents with weariness and disdain for what seems to be their unpleasing method of narration " (" Depre­camur vos, 0 auditores sacroruni voluminum, non cum taedio vel fastidio ea quae leguntur, audire pro co quod minus delectabilis eorum videtur esse narratio ") ; cp. Horn. viii. t, in Levit., vol. ix. p. 313, de Princzjh., iv. 1. 7, iv. 26 [the divine nature of the Bible all the more- plain from its defective literary style), Cohort. ad Grtec., xxxv.-xxxvi., xxxviii.

\16/Even the Greek text, of course, is unpleasing : λέγωv' *εáv  μη *ακoύσητε τ*ηs φων*ης μου, ε*ι μ*ηv *η βsμβησιs *η μεγáλη *η πολλ*η α*υτη . On the style of the New Testament, cp. Norden, Die antike Kunstprosa(1898), pp. 516 f. ("Educated people could not but view the literary records of the Christians as stylistic monstrosities").-- Arnobius (i. 58) writes of the Scriptures : "They were written by illiterate and uneducated men, and therefore are not readily to be credited" ("Ab indoctis hominibus et rudibus scripta suit et idcirco non swat facili auditione credenda "). When he writes (i. 59) : " Barbarismis, soloecismis obsitae sunt res vestrae et vitioruni deformitate pollutae" (" Your narratives are overrun by barbarisms and solecisms, and disfigured by monstrous blunders "), he is reproducing pagan opinions upon the Bible. Compare the remarks of Sulpicius Severus, and the reasons which led him to compose his Chronicle of the World ; also Augustine's Confess., iii. 5 (9). The correspondence between Paul and Seneca was fabricated in order to remove the obstacles occasioned by the poor style of Paul's letters in the Latin version ( cp. my Litt. Geschichte, i., p. 765).

\17/ No doubt he is anxious to bring out his own accomplishments.

\18/ Cp. on this the extremely instructive treatise " ad Paganos " in the pseudo­August. Qucest. in Vet. et Nov. Test., No. 114- Underlying it is the charge of stupidity levelled at Christians, who are about thirty times called " stulti." The author naturally tries to prove that it is the pagans who are the stupid folk

In the Latin West, although Minucius Felix and Cyprian (ad Donatum) wrote in a well-bred style, Christian literature had but little to do with the spread of the Christian religion ; in the East, upon the contrary, it became a factor of great importance from the third century onwards.





ANYONE who inquires about the missionary methods in general, must be referred to what has been said in our Second Book (pp. 86 f.). For the missionary preaching includes the missionary methods. The one God, Jesus Christ as Son and Lord according to apostolic tradition, future judgment and the resurrection-these truths were preached. So was the gospel of the Saviour and of salvation, of love and charity. The new religion was stated and verified as Spirit and power, and also as the power to lead a new moral life, and to practise self-control. News was brought to men of a divine revelation to which humanity must yield itself by faith. A new people, it was announced, had now appeared, which was destined to embrace all nations ; withal a primitive, sacred book was handed over, in which the world's history was depicted from the first day to the last.


In 1 Cor. i.-ii. Paul expressly states that he gave a central place to the proclamation of the crucified Christ. He summed up everything in this preaching ; that is, he proclaimed Christ as the Saviour who wiped sins away. But preaching of this kind implies that he began by revealing and bringing home to his hearers their own impiety and unrighteousness ( άσέβεια κα ì ι z δκέιυ ) .  Otherwise the preaching of redemption could never have secured a footing or done its work at all. Moreover, as the decisive proof of men's impiety and unrighteousness, Paul adduced their ignorance regarding God and also regarding idolatry, an ignorance for which they themselves were to blame. To prove that this was their own fault, he appealed to the conscience [382] of his hearers, and to the remnant of divine knowledge which they still possessed. The opening of the epistle to the Romans (chaps. i.-iii.) may therefore be considered to represent the way in which Paul began his missionary preaching. First of all, he brought his hearers to admit " we are sinners, one and all." Then he led them to the cross of Christ, where he de­veloped the conception of the cross as the power and the wisdom of God. And interwoven with all this, in characteristic fashion, lay expositions of the flesh and the Spirit, with allusions to the approaching judgment.


So far as we can judge, it was Paul who first threw into such sharp relief the significance of Jesus Christ as a Redeemer, "and made this the central point of Christian preaching. No doubt, the older missionaries had also taught and preached that Christ died for sins (1 Cor. xv. 3) ; but in so far as they addressed Jews, or people who had for some time been in contact with Judaism, it was natural that they should confine themselves to preaching the imminence of judgment, and also to proving from the Old Testament that the crucified Jesus was to return as judge and as the Lord of the messianic kingdom. Hence quite naturally they could summon men to acknowledge him, to join his church, and to keep his commandments.


We need not doubt that this was the line taken at the outset, even for many people of pagan birth who had already become familiar with some of the contents and characteristics of the Old Testament. The Petrine speeches in Acts are a proof of this. As for the missionary address, ascribed to Paul in ch. xiii., it is plainly a blend of this popular missionary preaching with the Pauline manner; but in that model of a mission address to educated people which is preserved in ch. xvii.\1/ the Pauline manner of missionary preaching is perfectly distinct, in spite of what seems to be one vital difference. First we have an exposi­tion of the true doctrine of God, whose main aspects are succes­sively presented (monotheism, spirituality, omnipresence and omnipotence, creation and providence, the unity of the human race and their religious capacities, spiritual worship). The state of mankind hitherto is described as " ignorance," and therefore [383] to be repented of; God will overlook it. But the new era has dawned : an era of repentance and judgment, involving faith in Jesus Christ, who has been sent and raised by God and who is at once redeemer and judge.\2/ Many of the more educated missionaries, and particularly Luke himself, certainly preached in this fashion, as is proved by the Christian apologies and by writings like the "Preaching of Peter." Christian preaching was bent on arousing a- feeling of godlessness and unrighteous­ness ; it also worked upon the natural consciousness of God ; but it was never unaccompanied by references to the coming judgment.



\1/ The address in xiv. 15 f, is akin to this.


\2/ Whatever be the origin of the address in Acts xvii. 22-31 and the whole narrative of Paul's preaching at Athens, it remains the most wonderful passage in the book of Acts ; in a higher sense (and probably in a strictly historical sense, at some vital points) it is full of truth. No one should have failed especially to recognize how closely the passage fits into the data which can be gathered from 1 Cor. i. f. and Rom. i. f., with regard to the missionary preaching of Paul. The following points may be singled out:­-

The address put into the mouth of Paul by the "Acta Pauli" [384] (Acta Theclae, v.-vi.) is peculiar and quite un-Pauline (compare, however, the preaching of Paul before Nero). Strictly speaking, it cannot even be described as a missionary address at all.. The apostle speaks in beatitudes, which are framed upon those of Jesus but developed ascetically. A more important point is that the content of Christian preaching is described as "the doctrine of the generation and resurrection of the Beloved " (διδασκαλία τής τε γεννήσεως κα ì της ύναστύσεως τοϋ ήγα πη μένου ), and as "the message of self-control and of resurrection" ( λόγος τής έγκρ αι τείας και αναστάσεως ). \3/

\3/ A brief and pregnant missionary address, delivered by an educated Christian, is to be found in the Acta Apollonii (xxxvi. Q. The magistrate's demand for a brief statement of Christianity is met thus : ο * ύτο s δ σωτήρα ήμων ' Ιησούς Χριστο s ,5 όνθρωπο s γενόμενο s έν τη ' Ιουδαία κατα παντα δίκαιος κα 1 πεπληρωμένοι Θεία σοφία , φιλανθρ ώ πω s έδίδαξεν ι ημάς τις ό τών ϋλων θεος και τι τέλος άρετϊ 7 ς έπί σεμνην πολιτειαν αρμό ς ον προς τας τών ϋνθρώπων ψυχάς & ς δια τον παθείν έπαυσεν τας αρχας των αμαρτιών (" This Jesus Christ our Saviour, on becoming man in Judaea, being just in all respects and filled with divine wisdom, taught us-in his love for men-who was the God of all, and what was that end of virtue which promoted a holy life and was adapted to the souls of men ; by his sufferings he stopped the springs of sin "). Then follows a list of all the virtues, including the duty of honouring the emperor, with faith in the immortality of the soul and in retribution ; all of these were taught by Jesus µETA 7roxAfijs airo&c t€ws. Like the philosophers and just men before him, however, Jesus was persecuted and slain by "the lawless," even as one of the Greeks had also said that the just man would be tortured, spat upon, bound, and finally crucified. As Socrates was unjustly condemned by the Athenian sycophants, so did certain wicked persons vilify and condemn our Teacher and Saviour, just as already they had done to the prophets who foretold his coming, his work, and his teaching ( προεϊπον * υτι τυιούτός τις άφίξεται πάντα δίκαιος καί ένάρετυς , ύ ς είς παντας εύ πσιήσας άνθρώπούς e π ' άρεττη πείσει σέβειν ταν πάντων θεόν , υ ν ήμεϊς φθάοαντες τιμώμεν ,. f τι έμαθομεν σεμνάς ε τυλαι ς ουκ ήδειυεν . καΙ ον πεπλανήμεθα : they predicted that "such an one will come, absolutely righteous and virtuous, who in beneficence to all men shall persuade them to reverence that God of all men whom we now by anticipation honour, because we have learnt holy commands which we knew not, and have not been deceived ").

The effect of connected discourses, so far as regards the Christian mission, need not be overestimated ; in every age a single stirring detail that moves the heart is of greater weight than a long sermon. The book of Acts describes many a person being converted all at once, by a sort of rush. And the descrip­tion is not unhistorical. Paul was converted, not by a missionary, but by means of a vision. The Ethiopian treasurer was led to believe in Jesus by means of Isaiah liii., and how many persons [385] may have found this chapter a bridge to faith ! Thecla was won over from paganism by means of the "word of virginity and prayer" ( λόγος της παρθενίας κα ì της προσευχής Acta Theclae, ch. vii.), a motive which is so repeatedly mentioned in the apocryphal Acts that its reality and significance cannot be called in question. Asceticism, especially in the sexual relationship, did prevail in wide circles at that period, as an outcome of the religious syncretism. The apologists had good grounds also for declaring that many were deeply impressed and eventually con­vinced by the exorcisms which the Christians performed, while we may take it for granted that thousands were led to Christianity by the stirring proclamation of judgment, and of judgment close at 'hand. Besides, how many simply succumbed to the authority of the Old Testament, with the light thrown on it by Christianity ! Whenever a proof was required,, here was this book all ready.\4/

\4/ Strictly speaking, we have no mission-literature, apart from the fragments of the " Preaching of Peter" or the Apologies, and the range of the latter includes those who are already convinced of Christianity. The New Testament, in particular, does not contain a single missionary work. The Synoptic gospels must not be embraced under this category, for they are catechetical works, intended for the instruction of people who are already acquainted with the prin­ciples of doctrine, and who require to have their faith enriched and confirmed (cp. Luke i. 4). One might with greater reason describe the Fourth gospel as a missionary work ; the prologue especially suggests this view. But even here the description would be inapplicable. Primarily, at any rate, even the Fourth gospel has Christian readers in view, for it is certainly Christians and not pagans who are addressed in xx. 31. Acts presents us with a history of missions ; such was the deliberate intention of the author. But ch. i. 8 states what is merely the cardinal, and by no means the sole, theme of the book.

The mission was reinforced and actively advanced by the behaviour of Christian men and women. Paul often mentions this, and in 1 Pet. iii. 1 we read that men who do not believe the Word are to be won over without a word by means of the conduct of their wives.\5/ The moral life of Christians appealed [386] to a man like Justin with peculiar force, and the martyrdotns made a wide impression. It was no rare occurrence for outsiders to be struck in such a way that on the spur of the moment they suddenly turned to Christianity. But we know of no cases in which Christians desired to win, or actually did win, adherents by means of the charities which they dispensed. We are quite aware that impostors joined the church in order to profit by the brotherly kindness of its members ; but even pagans never charged Christianity with using money as a missionary bribe. What they did allege was that Christians won credulous people to their religion with their words of doom, and that they promised the heavy-laden a vain support, and the guilty an unlawful pardon. In the third century the channels of the mission among the masses were multiplied. At one moment in the crisis of the struggle against gnosticism it looked as if the church could onl y continue to exist by prohibiting any intercourse with that devil's courtezan, philosophy ; the CC simplices et idiotae," indeed, shut their ears firmly against all learning.\6/ But even a Tertullian found himself compelled to oppose this standpoint, while the pseudo-Clementine Homilies made a vigorous attack upon the methods of those who would [387] substitute dreams and visions for instruction and doctrine. That, they urge, is the method\7/ of Simon Magus! Above all, it was the catechetical school of Alexandria, it was men like Clement and Origen, who by their patient and unwearied efforts won the battle for learning, and vindicated the rights of learning in the Christian church. Henceforward, Christianity used her learning also, in the shape of word and book, for the purpose of her mission (i.e., in the East, for in the West there is little trace of this). But the most powerful agency of the mission during the third century was the church herself in her entirety. As she assumed the form of a great syncretistic religion and managed cautiously to bring about a transforma­tion which gnosticism would have thrust upon her violently, the mere fact of her existence and the influence exerted by her very appearance in history wielded a power that attracted and captivated men.

\5/Details upon Christian women follow in Book IV. Chap. II. But here we may set down the instructive description of a Christian woman's daily life, from the pen of Tertullian (ad Uxor., II. iv, f.). Its value is increased by the fact that the woman described is married to a pagan.

" If a vigil has to' be attended, the husband, the first thing in the morning, makes her an appointment for the baths ; if it is a fast-day, he holds a banquet on that very day. If she has to go out, household affairs of urgency at once come in the way. For who would be willing to let his wife go through one street after another to other men's houses, and indeed to the poorer cottages, in order to visit [386b] the brethren? Who would like to see her being taken from his side by some duty of attending a nocturnal gathering ? At Easter time who will quietly tolerate her absence all the night? Who will unsuspiciously let her go to the Lord's supper, that feast which they heap such calumnies upon? Who will let her creep into gaol to kiss the martyrs' chains? or even to meet any one of the brethren for the holy kiss? or to bring water for the saints' feet? If a brother arrives from abroad, what hospitality is there for him in such an alien house, if the very larder is closed to one for whom the whole storeroom ought to be thrown open i . . . . Will it pass unnoticed, if you make the sign of the cross on your bed or on your person f or when you blow away with a breath some impurity? or even when you rise by night to pray ? Will it not look as if you were trying to engage in some work of magic ? Your husband will not know what it is that you eat in secret before you taste any food." The description shows us how the whole daily life of a Christian was to be a confession of Christianity, and in this sense a propaganda of the mission as well.

\6/ Tert., adv. Prax. iii.: "Simplices quique, ne dixerim imprudentes et idiotae, quae maior semper credentium pars est " (" The simple-I do not call them senseless or unlearned-who are always the majority ") ; cp. de leeszzwt, ii. Hippolytus, at the beginning of the third century, calls Zephyrinus, the bishop of Rome, an ì διώτης and αγ ρύμματος (Plzilos., ix, rr), and Origen often bewails the large number of ignorant Christians.

\7/See Homil. xvii. 14-19, where censure is passed on the view that it is safer "to learn by means of an apparition than from the clearness of truth itself ( ύπο οπτασίας άκούειν . παρ ' αύτής εαρ y είας , 14); ύ οπτασία πιστεύων , we read , δράματι και ευπνιψ α γμοεϊ τίνι πιστεύει (" He who believes in an apparition or vision and dreams, does not know in whom he is believing "). Cp. 17: κα i άσεβεϊς δραματα κα ~ ενύπνια ύληθή βλέπουσιν τψ ενσεβεϊ έμφύτιψ και καθαρφ άναβλύξει τψ " νψ " το άλήθες , ον ούκ σπονδαζ μενού , άλλά συνσει άγαθοϊς διδόυενον ("Even impious men have true visions and dreams . . . . but truth bubbles up to the natural and pure mind of the pious ; it is not worked up through dreams, but vouchsafed to the good through their under­standing"). In § 18 Peter explains that his own confession (Matt. xvi.) first became precious to himself when Jesus told him it was the Father who had allowed him to participate in this revelation. Tb E~wOEV SL' o,rTao-Lmv Kal Evvavfwv Srixwovlval TL obs Eo'TLV aaoKaxtpews axxa opyils ("The declaration of anything external by means of apparitions and dreams is the mark, not of revelation, but of wrath divine "). In § t9 a negative answer is given to the question " whether anyone can be rendered fit for instruction by means of an apparition" ( εί τις δι ' ιπτασίαν προ r διδασκαλ ( αν σοφισθήναι δύναται ).

When a newcomer was admitted into the Christian church he was baptized. This rite ("purifici roris perfusio," Lactant., iv. 15), whose beginnings lie wrapt in obscurity, certainly was not introduced in order to meet the pagan craving for the mysteries, but as a matter of fact it is impossible to think of any symbolic action which would prove more welcome to that craving than baptism with all its touching simplicity. The mere fact of [388] such a rite was a great comfort in itself, for few indeed could be satisfied with a purely spiritual religion. The ceremony of the individual's immersion and emergence from the water served as a guarantee that old things were now washed away and gone, leaving him a new man. The utterance of the name of Jesus or of the three names of the Trinity during the baptismal act brought the candidate into the closest union with them ; it raised him to God himself. Speculations on the mystery at once commenced.\8/ Immersion was held to be a death ; immersion in relation to Christ was a dying with him, or an absorption into his death ; the water was the symbol of his blood. Paul himself taught this doctrine, but he rejected the speculative notions of the Corinthians (I Cor. i. 13 f.) by which they further sought to bring the person baptized into a mysterious connection with the person who baptizes. It is remarkakle how he thanks God that personally he had only baptized a very few people in Corinth. This is not, of course, to be taken as a depreciation of baptism. Like his fellows, Paul recognized it to be simply indispensable. The apostle is merely recollecting, and recollecting in this instance with satisfaction, the limitation of his apostolic calling, in which no duty was imposed on him beyond the preaching of the word _of God. Strictly speaking, baptism does not fall within his jurisdiction. He may perform the rite, but commonly it is the business of other people. In the majority of cases it implies a lengthy period of instruction and examination, and the apostle has no time for that : his task is merely to lay the foundation. Baptism marks therefore not the act of initiation but the final stage of the initiation.

\8/Magical ideas were bound up from the very first with baptism ; cp. the baptism v r p Tap vexp e' at Corinth and Paul's attitude towards it (1 Cor. xv. 29).

" Fiunt, non nascuntur Christiani"; men are not born Christians, but made Christians. This remark of Tertullian (Apol., xviii.)\9/ may have applied to the large majority even after the middle of the second century, but thereafter a companion feature arose in the shape of the natural extension of Christianity through parents to their children. Subsequently to that period the practice [389] of infant baptism was also inaugurated ; at least we are unable to get certain evidence for it at an earlier date.\10/ ' But whether infants or adults were baptized, baptism in either case was held to be a mystery which involved decisive consequences of a natural and supernatural kind. The general conviction was that baptism effectually cancelled all past sins of the baptized person, apart altogether from the degree of moral sensitiveness on his own part ; he rose 'from his immersion a perfectly pure and perfectly holy man. Now this sacrament played an extremely important role in the mission of this church. It was an act as intelligible as it was consoling ; the ceremony itself was not so unusual as to surprise or scandalize people like circumcision or the taurobolium, and yet it was something tangible, something to which they could attach themselves.\11/ [390] Furthermore, if one added the story of Jesus being baptized by John-a story which was familiar to everyone, since the gospel opened with it-not merely was a fresh field thrown open for profound schemes and speculations, but, thanks to the precedent of this baptism of Jesus, the baptism to which every Christian submitted acquired new unction and a deeper content. As the Spirit had descended upon Jesus at his own baptism, so God's Spirit hovered now upon the water at every Christian's baptism, converting it into a bath of regeneration and renewal. How much Tertullian has already said about baptism in his treatise de Baptisrno ! Even that simple Christian, Hermas, sixty years previous to Tertullian, cannot say enough on the topic of baptism ; the apostles, he exclaims, went down into the under­world and there baptized those who had fallen asleep long ago.

\9/ Cp. de Testim., i. : " Fieri non nasci solet christiana anima." Those born in Christian homes are called " vernaculi ecclesiae't ( cp. de Anima, li.).

 \10/ Here, too, I am convinced that the saying holds true, " Ab initio sic non erat."

\11/ At the same time, of course, people of refined feeling were shocked by the rite of baptism and the declaration involved in it, that all sins were now wiped out. Porphyry, whose opinion in this matter is followed by Julian, writes thus in Macarius Magnes ( iv. tg ) : " We must feel amazed and truly concerned about our souls, if a man thus shamed and polluted is to stand out clean after a single immersion, if a man whose life is stained by so much debauchery, by adultery, fornication, drunkenness,, theft, sodomy, murder by poisoning, and many another shameful and detestable vice-if such a creature, I say, is lightly set free from it all, throwing off the whole guilt as a snake sheds its old scales, merely because he has been baptized and has invoked the name of Christ. Who will not commit misdeeds, mentionable and unmentionable, who will not do things which can neither be described nor tolerated, if he learns that he can get quit of all these shameful offences merely by believing and getting baptized, and cherishing the hope that he will hereafter find forgiveness with him who is to judge the living and the dead ? Assertions of this kind cannot but lead to sin on the part of anyone who understands them. They teach men constantly to be unrighteous. They lead one to understand that they proscribe even the discipline of the law and righteousness itself, so that these have no longer any power at all against unrighteousness. They introduce a• lawless life into an ordered world. They raise it to the rank of a first principle, that a man has no longer to shun godlessness at all-if by the simple act of baptism he gets rid of a mass of innumerable sins. Such, then, is the position of matters with regard to this boastful fable." But is Porphyry quite candid in this detestation of sacraments and their saving efficiency in general, as well as in his description of the havoc wrought upon morals by baptism ? As to the latter point, it is of course true that the practice of postponing baptism became more and more common, even as early as the second century, in order to evade a thorough-going acceptance of the Christian life, and yet to have the power of sinning with impunity (cp., e.g., Tert., de Pwnit., vi.). Even strict teachers advised it, or at least did not dissuade people from it, so awful seemed the responsibility of baptism. No safe means could be found for wiping off post-baptismal [390b] sins. Yet this landed them in a sore dilemma, of which they were themselves quite conscious. They had to fall in with the light-minded l Cp. Tertullian, loc. cit. and de Baptismo ; at a later date, the second book of Augustine's Confessions. Justin, however, declares that baptism is only for those who have actually ceased to sin (Apol., i. 61 f.).

It was as a mystery that the Gentile church took baptism from the very first,\12/ as is plain even from the history of the way in which the sacrament took shape. People were no longer satis­fied with the simple bath of baptism. The rite was amplified ; new ceremonies were added to it; and, like all the mysteries, the holy transaction underwent a development. Gradually the new ceremonies asserted their own independence, by a process which also is familiar. In the treatise I have just mentioned, Tertullian exhibits this development at an advanced stage,\13/ but [391] on the main issue there was little or no alteration; baptism was essentially the act by which past sins were entirely cancelled.

\12/ This sacrament was not, of. course, performed in secret at the outset, nor indeed for some time to come. It is not until the close of the second century that the secrecy of the rite commences, partly for educative reasons, partly because more and more stress came to be laid on the nature of baptism as a mystery. The significance attaching to the correct ritual as such is evident as early as the Didache (vii.), where we read that in the first instance running water is to be used in baptism ; failing that, cold standing water ; failing that, warm water ; failing a sufficient quantity even of that, mere sprinkling is permissible. The comparative freedom of such regulations was not entirely abolished in later ages, but it was scrupulously restricted. Many must have doubted the entire efficacy of baptism by sprinkling, or at least held that it required to be supplemented.

\13/On the conception and shaping of baptism as a mystery, see Anrich's Das antike Mysterienwesen in seinem Einftuss auf das Christe,:tum (1894), PP- 84 f-, 168 f., 179 f., and Wobbermin's Religionsgeschich. Studien z. Frage d. Beeinflussung [391b] des Urchristentums durch das antike Mysterienwesen (2896), pp. 143 f. The latter discusses o- σφραγίς , σφραγίξειν , φωτισμός , φωτ 1 ζιν , and σύμβολον , , the technical baptismal terms. The mysteries are exhibited in greatest detail by the Pistis Sophia.

It was a mysterium salutare, a saving mystery ; but it was also a mysterium tremendimi, an awful mystery, for the church had no second means of grace like baptism. The baptized person must remain pure, or (as 9. Clem., e.g., puts it) " keep the seal pure and intact." Certain sects attempted to introduce repeated baptism, but they never carried their point ; baptism, it was steadily maintained, could never be repeated. True, the sacra­ment of penance gradually arose, by means of which the grace lost after baptism could be restored. Despite this, however, there was a growing tendency in the third century to adopt the custom of postponing baptism until immediately before death, in order to make the most of this comprehensive means of grace.


No less important than baptism itself was the preparation for it, Here the spiritual aspect of the Christian religion reached its highest expression ; here its moral and social force was plainly shown. The Didache at once corroborates and elucidates the uncertain information which we possess with regard to this point in the previous period. The pagan who desired to become a Christian was not baptized there and then. When his heart had been stirred by the broad outlines of the preaching of the one God and the Lord Jesus Christ as saviour and redeemer, he was then shown the will and law of God, and what was meant by renouncing idolatry. No summary doctrines were laid down, but the "two ways" were put before him in a most com­prehensive and thoroughgoing fashion ; every sin was tracked to its lurking-place within. He had to renounce all sins and assent to the law of God, nor was he baptized until the church was convinced that he knew the moral code and desired to follow it (Justin, Apol., I. Ixvii .: λούσαι τόν πετ r εισμένον κα ì συγκατατε ­ Θειμένον , , "to wash him who is convinced and who has assented to our teaching").\14/ The Jewish synagogue had already drawn [392] up a catechism for proselytes and made morality the condition of religion ; it had already instituted a training for religion. Christianity took this up and deepened it. In so doing it was actuated by the very strongest motives, for otherwise it could not protect itself against the varied forms of "idolatry " or realize its cherished ideal of being the holy church of God. For over a century and a half it ranked everything almost secondary to the supreme task of maintaining its morality. It recognized no faith and no forgiveness that might serve as a pillow for the conscience, and one reason why the church did not triumph over gnosticism at an earlier period was simply because she did not . like to shut out people who owned Christ as their Lord and led a strictly moral life. Her power lay in the splendid and stringent moral code of her baptismal training, which at once served as an introduction to the Scriptures;\15/ moreover, every brother was backed up and assisted in order that he might continue to be fit for the duties he had undertaken to fulfil.\16/ Ever since the great conflict with gnosticism and Marcionitism, some instruc­tion in the rule of faith was added. People were no longer satisfied with a few fundamental truths about God and Christ; [393] a detailed exposition of the dogmatic creed, based on the baptismal formula, and presented in apologetic and controversial shape, was also laid before the catechumen. At the same time, prior to Constantine, while we have requirements exacted from the catechumens (or those recently baptized), we possess no catechisms of a dogmatic character.

\14/ Cp. Orig., c. Cels., III, li.: "Having previously tested, as far as possible, the hearts of those who desire to become their hearers, and having given them [392b] preliminary instruction by themselves, Christians admit them into the community whenever they evince adequate evidence of their desire to lead a virtuous life. Certain persons are entrusted by Christians with the duty of investigating and testing the life and conduct of those who come forward, in order to prevent people of evil behaviour from entering the community, and at the same time to extend a hearty welcome to people of a different stamp, and to improve them day by day."


\15/Cp. the Testimonia of Cyprian.


\16/Origen distinctly remarks (III. liii.) that the moral and mental training of catechumens and of young adherents of the faith varied according to the require­ments of their position and the amount of their knowledge. After Zezschwitz, I-Ioltzmann, in his essay on "The Catechising of the Early Church" (Abhandl. f. ffreiz.rdeker, 1892, pp. 53 f. ), has given the most thorough account of the pedagogy of th, church. But we must refrain from imagining that catechetical instruction was uniformly as thoroughgoing and comprehensive during the third century as. it was, say, in Jerusalem under Cyril in the fourth. In the majority of churches there were no clergy capable of taking part in this work. Still, the demand was there, and this demand for initiation into religion by means of regular, public, and individual instruction in morals and religion raised Christianity far above all pagan religions and mysteries, while at the same time it allied Christianity to knowledge and education. Even when it clothed part of its doctrine in mysteries (as in the third century), the message still remained open and accessible to all. The letter of Ptolemoeus to Flora shows the graded instruction in Christianity given by the Valentinians.

It is deeply to be deplored that the first three centuries yield no biographies depicting the conversion or the inner rise and growth of any Christian personality. It is not as if such docu­ments had perished : they were never written. We do not even know the inner history of Paul up to the day on which he reached Damascus ; all we know is the rupture which Paul himself felt to be a sudden occurrence. Justin indeed describes (in his Dialogue with Trypho, i. f.) the steps leading up to his secession to Christianity, his passage through the philosophic schools, and finally his apprehension of the truth which rested on revelation ; but the narrative is evidently touched up and it is not particu­larly instructive. Thanks to Tatian's Oratio, we get a somewhat deeper insight into that writer's inner growth, but here, too, we are unable to form any real idea of the change. Otherwise, Cyprian's little treatise ad Donatum is of the greatest service. What he sought for was a power to free him from an unworthy life,, and in the Christian faith he found this power.


How deeply must conversion have driven its wedge into marriage and domestic life ! What an amount of strain, dis­peace, and estrangement conversion must have produced, if one member was a Christian while another clung to the old religion ! " Brother shall deliver up brother to death, and the father his child: children shall rise up against their parents and have them put to death." " I came not to bring peace on earth, but a sword. For I came to set a man at variance with his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man's foes shall be they of his own household. He who loveth father and mother more than me is not worthy of me ; and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me" (Matt. x. 21, 34-37). These prophecies, says Tertullian (Scorp., ix.), [394] were fulfilled in none of the apostles ; therefore they apply to us. "Nemo enim apostolorum aut fratrem aut patrem passus est traditorein, quod plerique iam nostri " (" None of the apostles was betrayed by father or brother, as most of us to-,day are"). Cp. ch. xi.: "We are betrayed by our next of kin." Justin (Dial. xxxv.) says the same "We are put to death by our kindred." "The father, the neighbour, the son, the friend, the brother, the husband, the wife, are imperilled ; if they seek to maintain discipline, they are in danger of being denounced" (Apol., II. i.). "If anyone," says Clement (Quis Dives, xxii.), " has a godless father or brother or son, who would be a hindrance to faith and an obstacle to the higher life, he must not associate with him or share his position ; he must abjure the fleshly tie on account of the spiritual hostility."\17/ In the Recognitions of Clement (ii. 29) we read: "In unaquaque domo, cum inter credentem et non credentem coeperit esse diversitas, necessario pugna fit, incredulis quidem contra fidem dimican­tibtis, fidelibus vero in illis errorem veterem et peccatorum vitia confutantibus" ("When differences arise in any household between a believer and an unbeliever, an inevitable conflict arises, the unbelievers fighting against the faith, and the faithful refuting their old error and sinful vices"). Eusebius (Theophan., iv. 19.) writes, on Luke xii. 51 f.: "Further, we see that no word of man, whether philosopher or poet, Greek or barbarian, has ever had the force of these words, whereby Christ rules the entire world, breaking up every household, parting and separating all generations, so that some think as he thinks whilst others find themselves opposed to him." A very meagre record of these tragedies has come down to us. The orator Aristides (Orat., xlvi.) alludes to them in a passage which will come up before us later on. Justin (Apol., II.) tells us of an aristocratic couple in Rome who were leading a profligate life. The woman becathe a Christian, and, unable ultimately to put up with her profligate husband any [395] longer, proposed a divorce; whereupon he denounced her and her teacher to the city prefect as Christians.' When Thecla became a Christian, she would have nothing to do with her bridegroom-a state of matters which must have been fairly common, like the refusal of converted wives to admit a husband's marital rights. Thecla's bridegroom denounced her teacher to the magistrates, and she herself left her parents' house. Celsus (Orig., adv. Cels., III. Iv.) gives a drastic account of how Christian fanatics of the baser classes sowed dispeace in families of their own standing. The picture is at least drawn from personal observation, and on that account it must not be left out here. " As we see, workers in wool and leather, fullers and cobblers, people entirely uneducated and unpolished, do not venture in private houses to say a word in presence of their employers, who' are older and wiser than themselves. But as soon as they get hold of young people and such women as are as ignorant as themselves, in private, they become wonderfully eloquent. 'You must follow us,' they say, ' and not your own father or teachers ; the latter are deranged and stupid ; in the grip of silly pre­judices, how can they conceive or carry out anything truly noble or good? Let the young people follow us, for so they will be happy and make the household happy also!' If they see, as they talk so, a teacher or intelligent person or the father himself coming, the timorous among them are sore afraid, while the more forward incite the young folks to fling off the yoke. ' So long as you are with them,' they whisper,' we cannot and will not impart any good to you ; we have no wish to expose our­selves to their corrupt folly and cruelty, to their abandoned sinfulness and vindictive tempers ! If you want to pick up any good, leave your fathers and teachers. Come with your play­mates and the women to the women's apartments, or to the cobbler's stall, or to the fuller's shop ! There you will attain the perfect life!' Such are their wheedling words." A sketch like this, apart from its malice, was certainly applicable to the time of the Antonines ; hardly so, when Origen wrote. Origen is quite indignant that Christian teachers should be [396] mixed up with wool-dressers, cobblers, and fullers, but he cannot deny that young people and women were withdrawn from their teachers and parents. He simply declares that they were all the better for it (III. lvi.).

\17/He continues (ch. xxiii.) : " Suppose it is a lawsuit. Suppose your father were to appear to you and say, ' I begot you, I reared you. Follow me, join me in wickedness, and obey not the law of Christ,' and so on, as any blasphemer, dead by nature, would say."

\18/ Tertullian distinctly says (ad Uxor., II. v.) that heathen husbands held their wives in check by the fact that they could denounce them at any moment.

The scenes between Perpetua\19/ and her father are most affecting. He tried at first to bring her back by force,\20/ and then besought her with tears and entreaties (ch. V.).\21/ The crowd called out to the martyr Agathonike, " Have pity on thy son ! " But she replied, tt He has God, and God is able to have pity on his own." Pagan spectators of the execution of [397] Christians would cry out pitifully : tt Et puto liberos habet. nam est illi societas in penatibus coniunx, et tamen nec vinculo pignerum cedit nec obsequio pietatis abductus a proposito ' suo deficit" (Novat., de Laude Mart., xv.: tt Yet I believe the man he has a wife, at home. In spite of this, however, he does not yield to the bond of his offspring, nor withdraw from his purpose under the constraint of family affection"). "Uxorem iam pudicam inaritus iam non zelotypus, filium iam subiectum pater retro patiens abdicavit, servum iam fidelem dominus olim mitis ab oculis relegavit" (Tert., Apol., iii.: "Though . jealous no longer, the husband expels his wife who is now chaste; the son, now obedient, is disowned by his father who was formerly lenient ; the master, once so mild, cannot bear the sight of the slave who is now faithful"). Similar instances occur in many of the Acts of the Martyrs.\22/ Genesius (Ruinart, p. 312), for example, says that he cursed his Christian parents and relatives. But the reverse also happened. When Origen was young, and in fact little more than a lad, he wrote thus- to his father, who had been thrown into prison for his faith : "See that you do not change your mind on our account" (Eus., H.E., vi. 2).\23/ [398] In how many cases the husband was a pagan and the wife a Christian (see below, Book IV. Chap. II.). Such a relationship may have frequently\24/ been tolerable, but think of all the distress and anguish involved by these marriages in the majority of cases. Look at what Arnobius says (ii. 5): "Malunt solvi conjuges matrintoniis, exheredari a parentibus liberi quam fidem rumpere Christianam et salutaris militiae sacratnenta deponere" ("Rather than break their Christian troth or throw aside the oaths of the Christian warfare, wives prefer to be divorced, children to be disinherited ").

\19/ "Honeste nata, liberaliter instituta, matronaliter nupta, habens patrem et matrem et fratres duos, alterum aeque catechuminum, et filium infantem ad ubera" ("A woman of respectable birth, well educated, a married matron, with a father, mother, and two brothers alive, one of the latter being, like herself, a catechumen, and with an infant son at the breast").

\20/ "Tune pacer mittit se in me, ut oculos mihi erueret, sed vexavit tantum . . tune paucis diebus quod caruissem patrem, domino gratias egi et refrigeravi absentia illius" ("Then my father flung himself upon me as if he would tear out my eyes. But he only distressed me . . . . then a few days after my father had left me, I thanked the Lord, and his absence was a consolation to me "), ch. iii.

\21/ "Supervenit de civitate pater meus, consumptus taedio et adscendit ad me, ut me deiiceret dicens : Filia, miserere canis meis, miserere patri, si dignus sum a to pacer vocari ; si his to manibus ad hunc florem aetatis provexi, si to praeposui omnibus fratribus tuis ; ne me dederis in dedecus hominurn. aspice fratres tuos, aspice matrem tuam et materteram, aspice filium tuum, qui post to vivere non poterit . . . . haec dicebat quasi pater pro sua pietate, basians mihi manus, et se ad pedes meos jactans et lacrimans me jam non filiam nominabat, sed dominam" ("Then my father arrived from the city, worn out with anxiety. He came up to me in order to overthrow my resolve, saying, `Daughter, have pity on my grey hairs ; have pity on your father, if I am worthy to be called your father ; if with these hands I have brought you up to this bloom of life, if I have preferred you to all your - brothers, hand me not over to the scorn of men. Consider your brothers,. your mother, your aunt, your son who will not be able to survive you.' . . . . So spake my father in his affection, kissing my hands and throwing himself at my feet, and calling me with tears not daughter, but lady"). Cp. vi. : " Cum staret pater ad me deiciendam jussus est ab Hilariano (the judge) proici, et virga per­cussus est. et doluit mihi casus patri mei, quasi ego fuissem percussa : sic dolui pro senecta eius misera" (" As my father stood there to cast me down from my faith, Hilarianus ordered him to be thrown on his face and beaten with rods ; and my father's ill case grieved me as if it had been my own, such was my grief for his pitiful old age"); also ix. : 11 Intrat ad me pater consumptus taedio et coepit parbam suam evellere et in terrain mittere et prosternere se in faciem et inpro­perare armis suis et dicere tanta verha quae moverent universam creaturain" (" My father came in to me, worn out with anxiety, and began to tear his beard and to fling himself on the earth, and to throw himself on his face and to reproach his years, and utter such words as might move all ereation ").

\22/ During the persecution of Diocletian, Christian girls of good family (from Thessalonica) ran off and wandered about, without their fathers' knowledge, for weeks together in the mountains (" Acta Agapes, Chionke, Irenes," in Ruinart's Acta Mart., Ratisbon, 1859, p. 426). How bitterly does the aristocratic Fortuna­tianus complain before the judge, in the African Acts of Saturninus and Dativus (dating from Diocletian's reign ; cp. above, p. 363), that Dativus crept into the house and converted his (the speaker's) sister to Christianity during the absence of her father, and then actually took her with him to Abitini (Ruinart, p. 417). Compare the scene between the Christian soldier Marcianus and his wife, a woman of pagan opinions, in the Acts of Marcianus and.Nicander (Ruinart, p. 572). When her husband goes off to be executed, the woman cries : " Vae miserae mihi I non mihi respondes? miserator esto mei, domine ; aspice filium tuum dulcissimum, convertere ad nos, noli nos spernere. Quid festinas? quo tendis? cur nos odisti?" (" Ah, woe is me! will you not answer me? pity me, sir. Look at your darling son. Turn round to us ; ah, scorn us not. Why hasten off? Whither do you go? Why hate us?") See also the Acta Irenai, ch. iii. (op. tit., p. 433), where parents and wife alike adjure the young bishop of Sirmium not to sacrifice his life.-Of the martyr Dionysia we read (in Eus., HE., vi. 41. I8): πολύπαις μέν , οὐχ ὐπέρ τὸν κύριον δἐ ἀγαπ΄νσασα ἐαυτ ς τἀ τέκνα   (" She had a large family, but she loved not her own children above the Lord'').

\23/ Cp. Daria, the wife of Nicander, in the Acts of Marcianus and Nicander, who exhorted her husband to stand firm. Also the Acts of Maximilianus, where the martyr is encouraged by his father, who rejoices in the death of his son; and [398b] further, the Acia Jacobi et Mariani (Ruinart, p. 273), where the mother of Marianus exults in her son's death as a martyr.

\24/ As, e. g. , in the case of Augustine's home ; cp. his Confesς., i. I t (17) : " Iam [as

a boy) credebam et mater et omnis domus, nisi pater solus, qui tamen non evicit in me ius maternae pietatis, quominus in Christum crederem" ("Already I believed, as did my mother and the whole household except my father; yet he did not prevail over the power of my mother's piety to prevent me believing in Christ "). Augustine's father is described as indifferent, weak, and quite superficial.

A living faith requires no special " methods " for its propagation; on it sweeps over every obstacle; even the strongest natural affections cannot overpower it. But it is only to a very limited extent that the third century can be regarded in this ideal aspect. From that date Christianity was chiefly influential as the mono­theistic religion of mysteries and as a powerful church which embraced holy persons, holy books, a holy doctrine, and a sancti­fying cultus. She even stooped to meet the needs of the masses in a way very different from what had hitherto been followed ; she studied their traditional habits of worship and their polytheistic tendencies by instituting and organizing festivals, deliverers, saints, and local sacred sites, after the popular fashion. In this connection the missionary method followed by Gregory Thaumaturgus (to which we have already referred on p. 315) is thoroughly characteristic; by consenting to anything, by not merely tolerating but actually promoting a certain syncretism, it achieved, so far as the number of converts was concerned, a most brilliant success. In the following Book (Chap. III., sect. III. 9B.) detailed information will be given upon this point.