by Walter Bauer
Translated and supplemented under the direction of Robert
and Gerhard Kroedel (Philadelphia: Fortress 1971)
from the 2nd German edition edited and supplemented by Georg Strecker
(Tübingen: J.C.B.Mohr 1964 [original ed 1934]);
electronic edition periodically updated by Robert A. Kraft (since 1993)
Translated by David M. Hay
[Previous: Chapter 1]
[] [[*49]] [Ch 2]
Let us now turn our attention to another region, which resembles Edessa in its physical proximity to the cradle of Christianity and possesses an even greater significance for the intellectual as well as the ecclesiastical history of Christianity, namely Egypt, and the origins of Christianity there. What we have observed with respect to Edessa makes it difficult for us to accept the attitude with which even the most competent investigators approach this subject. For example, Adolf von Harnack says:
The most serious gap in our knowledge of primitive church history is our almost total ignorance of the history of Christianity in Alexandria and Egypt . . . until about the year 180 (the episcopate of Demetrius). It is only at that time that the Alexandrian church really emerges for us into the light of history. . . . Eusebius found nothing in his sources about the primitive history of Christianity in Alexandria. We can with more or less probability suppose that certain very ancient Christian writings (e.g. the <ts>Epistle of Barnabas</ts> . . . [et alia]) are of Egyptian or Alexandrian origin, but strictly speaking, this can hardly be demonstrated for any one of them.\1/
\1/ Harnack, <tm>The Mission and Expansion of Christianity in the First Three Centuries</tm>\2, 2 (ET by J. Moffatt from the 2nd German edition of 1906; London: Williams and Norgate, 1908): 158f. The material of this second edition is revised and extensively supplemented in the 4th German edition (Leipzig, 1924); thus reference to both ET and the more recent German ed. are included below (see German\4 2: 706 f., for the above quotation).
This implies simply that there is nothing in the sources. But they are too uncommunicative. Something ought to be found in them! [] Now these sources were certainly seen and inspected, if not written by churchmen. What reason could they have had for being silent about the origins of Christianity in such an important center as Alexandria if there had been something favorable to report?
Eusebius, who "found nothing in his sources about the primitive history of Christianity in Alexandria," had in any event [[*50]] searched very diligently in them. He repeats various items from pagan reporters concerning the Jewish revolt in Egypt under Trajan (EH 4.2), quotes excerpts from Philo and in his desperation even allows Philo's Therapeutae (below, n.14) to appear as the oldest Christians of Egypt and to be converted by Mark, the first bishop of Alexandria, after Philo previously had been in touch with Peter in Rome (EH 2.16-17). He traces a succession of ten bishops from Mark down to the reign of the Emperor Commodus (180-192).\2/ But this list, which he owes to Sextus Julius Africanus, serves only to make the profound silence that hangs over the origins even more disconcerting. "There is absolutely no accompanying tradition" -- since this is so, what may be gathered at best is still almost less than nothing.\3/ And the timid notation of that copyist of the <ts>Ecclesiastical History</ts> of Eusebius who calls Annianus, the immediate successor of Mark, "a man beloved by God and admirable in all things,"\4/ does not raise the tradition above the zero point. The first ten names (after Mark, the companion of the apostles) are and remain for us a mere echo and a puff of smoke; and they scarcely could ever have been anything but that. At least, here and there, the Roman succession list to the time of the Emperor Commodus offers us a living personality. And even in the defective catalogue of Antioch (see below, 63-64), with its half dozen names for the same span of time, we already meet a familiar face in Ignatius, quite apart from the sixth figure, Theophilus. There is simply nothing comparable that can be established for Alexandria. Yet we can hardly suppose that some inexplicable misfortune overtook the account of the earliest period of Egyptian church history, and in this way explain the deathly silence.
\2/ EH 2.24, 3.14, 3.21, 4.1, 4.4, 4.5.5, 4.11.6, 4.19, 5.9. For the various names, see the GCS edition by Schwartz, vol. 3: p. 9.
\3/ Harnack, <tm>Geschichte</tm> 2 (Chronologie) .1 (1897): 205 f.
\4/<gk>Anhr qeofilhs kai ta panta qaumasios</gk>. See the apparatus to EH 2.24 in the GCS edition.
In the same vein as those remarks from Harnack quoted above [] (cf. to n.1) are the brief lines which Karl Müller has recently devoted to our subject:\5/
It is precisely because of the strength of the Jewish community in Alexandria [[*51]] that Christianity cannot long have been absent from Egypt.\6/ Yet we have no actual reports about it: it is unknown whether Apollos of Alexandria (Acts 18.24) already had become a Christian in his native city, and the literary vestiges (the <ts>Epistle of Barnabas</ts>), like the beginnings of gnosticism in Alexandria, first appear in the time of Hadrian. But is any event, this evidence permits the inference that Christianity was present in the country at the latest by the turn of the century,\7/ a conclusion that, on other grounds, also could hardly be doubted.
\5/ K. Müller, <tm>Kirchengeschichte</tm>\2, 1 (Tübingen: Mohr, 1929): 121. Cf. also Lietzmann, <tm>History</tm>, 1: 132 f.
\6/ Is it possible to demonstrate, not as an occasional occurrence, but as a general rule, that a large population of Jews would immediately attract Christianity?
7/Notice that here, too, we have the good ecclesiastical view that the "beginnings of gnosticism" must presuppose the prior existence of "Christianity" in the same locality.
The question whether Apollos already was a Christian in Alexandria is answered in the affirmative by codex D at Acts 18.25, where he is said to have preached already "in his homeland."\8/ Be that as it may, it is perhaps no accident that here also, as in Eusebius' <ts>Ecclesiastical History</ts> (see above, 45 n.4), an amplification of the original text insists on knowing something about the most primitive period of Christian Egypt. But even supposing codex D were correct, surely no one would care to label as in any sense "ecclesiastically oriented faith" that mixture made up of Alexandrian Judaism and scriptural learning, of discipleship to John which knows only the baptism of the Baptist and of Christian ingredients -- Apollos himself does not at first proclaim more than this at Ephesus. Also of quite uncertain value is the letter of the Emperor Hadrian to the Consul Servianus quoted by Flavius Vopiscus, <ts>Vita Saturini</ts> 8, though a historian of the stature of H. Gelzer regards it as authentic, and Harnack is also willing to give it consideration.\9/ According to the context (7.6), this letter comes from the writings of Phlegon\10/ the [] freedman of Hadrian. In the letter, the emperor remarks that he is well acquainted with the Egyptians as frivolous and avid for novelties: "Here those who worship Serapis are [at the same time] Christians, and those who call themselves bishops of Christ are also devotees of Serapis. Here there is no synagogue leader of the Jews, no [[*52]] Samaritan, no Christian presbyter who is not also an astrologer, a haruspex, and an aliptes" (8.2 ff.).\11/ That the document is spurious seems to me readily demonstrable; nevertheless, that one could falsify in such fashion is not without significance.
\8/ [Strictly speaking, the Greek of codex D says only that Apollos was instructed in Christianity at Alexandia: <gk>(ws hn kathxhmenos en th patridi ton logon tou kuriou</gk>.]
\9/ Gelzer, <tm>Sextus Julius Africanus und die byzantiniche Chronographie</tm>, 1 (Leipzig, 1880): 16; Harnack, <tm>Mission</tm>\2, 2: 159 f. n. 4 (= German\4 2: 707, n. 3).
\10/ See W. Weber, <tm>Untersuchungen zur Geschichte des Kaisers Hadrianus</tm> (Leipzig: Tuebner, 1907 ), pp. 97 ff.
\11/ <ts>Scriptores historiae Augustae</ts>, ed. E. Hohl (2 vols, Leipzig 1927): <lt>Aegyptum . . . totam didici levem pendulam et ad omnia famae momenta volitantem, illic qui Serapem colunt Christiani sunt et devoti sunt Serapi qui se Christi epicopas dicunt, nemo illic archisynagogus Iudaeorum, nemo Samarites, nemo Christianorum presbyter non mathematicus, non haruspex, non aliptes</lt>. The final word is from the Greek <gk>aleifein</gk>, to anoint. [The haruspex performs divination by interpreting the entrails of sacrificial victims.]
Certainly neither Philo, when he complains of the distress of the Jews under Caligula,\12/ nor the Emperor Claudius, in the letter to the Egyptian prefect L. Aemilius Rectus in which he demands the cessation of strife between pagans and Jews,\13/ gives the slightest hint that there were also Christians in Alexandria. Likewise, no one today would dare to suppose with Eusebius (EH 2.16-17) that Philo's "Therapeutae" were Christians.\14/
\12/ [Philo <ts>Embassy to Gaius</ts> 162 ff. and passim.]
\13/ Papyrus London 1912, dated 41 c.e. [10 November], [For the text, ET, and an up-to-date discussion of the document, see V. A. Tcherikover and A. Fuks, <tm> Corpus Papyrorum Judaicarum</tm>, 2 (Cambridge: Harvard University, 1960), no. 153, pp. 36-55.]
\14/ See above, p. 45 (Philo describes the Therapeutae in his <ts>On the Contemplative Life</ts>. In connection with the theory that the "Dead Sea Scrolls" are of Jewish-Christian origin, J. L. Teicher recently has argued for the Christian origin of this allegedly Philonic treatise; cf. e.g. his article on "The Essenes" in <tp>Studia Patristica</tp>, 1 (TU 63, 1951): 540-545).
When K. Müller deals with the <ts>Epistle of Barnabas</ts> prior to his discussion of gnosticism, perhaps he views it as a representative of some sort of orthodoxy in Alexandria. But quite apart from the fact that its origin in Egypt is no more than a possibility, its orthodoxy must also be viewed as suspect. The basic thesis of the <ts>Epistle</ts>, that Judaism is an aberration with which Christianity can have nothing to do, but which deserves only rejection, remains gnostic -- even if, by means of a thoroughly grotesque allegorization, which turns the Old Testament topsy-turvy with respect to its literal meaning, a condemnation of Jewish scripture ostensibly still is avoided. Actually, the Valentinian Ptolemy has retained more of the Old Testament than [] has <ts>Barnabas</ts>. And quite similar to the latter may have been the approach of the Valentinian Theotimus, who took such pains with the "ideas of the law."\15/ Quite significant is the high esteem enjoyed by the concept "knowledge" and the term "gnosis" in Barnabas.\16/ We find the progression repeated: "wisdom, insight, knowledge, gnosis" (2.3, 21.5). Christians are to add "perfect gnosis" to their faith (1.5). And repeatedly, it is "gnosis" that perverts the real sense of the Old Testament (9.8, 10.10, 13.7). A passage from scripture is adduced and then the question raised: "but what does gnosis say about this?" (6.9). If we add that the Christology of <ts>Barnabas</ts> contains nothing which can be interpreted as anti-heretical -- but on the contrary, it seems docetic -- then the document has, to my mind, forfeited any claim to represent the ecclesiastically orthodox faith in Alexandria. [[*53]]
\15/ Tertullian <ts>Against Valentinus</ts> 4: <lt>multum circa imagines legis Theotimus operatus est</lt>.
\16/ [See the material collected by R. A. Kraft, <tm>Barnabas and the Didache</tm> (= Grant, AF 3, 1965), pp. 22-27.]
Again, we are hardly brought into the realm of orthodoxy by that story which Justin tells concerning "one of our people" in Alexandria, as a proof of the high level of Christian morality (<ts>Apol.</ts> 29.2-3). This individual is stated to have lodged a biblidion with the prefect Felix\17/ -- a petition requesting that a physician be permitted to emasculate him. The physicians refused to fulfil his wish without the governor's authorization. Although the prefect refused permission, the young man led a moral life even without the physical operation.
\17/ The person meant is L. Munatius Felix, who held office around the year 150. See A. Ehrhard, <tm>Die altchristliche Literatur und ihre Erforschung von 1884-1900, 1: Die vornicänische Literatur</tm> (Freiburg im B., 1900), p. 220.
Certainly there were Christians in Egypt in the middle and at the beginning of the second century -- this story proves nothing more than that. But the burning question is, of what sort were they? Everything that we know of this Christianity, apart from what has been mentioned already, clearly has grown up apart from all ecclesiastically structured Christendom until far into the second century. Its personal representatives of whom we hear are the gnostics\18/ -- Basilides, with his son Isidore, Carpocrates and Valentinus, with various of his [] disciples,\19/ Theodotus and Julius Cassianus -- the overwhelming majority of whom demonstrably come from the land of the Nile.\20/ Apelles, the independent pupil of Marcion, also was active here,\21/ and according to Hippolytus, Cerinthus had been trained in Egypt.\22/ The Barbelo-Gnostics also flourished here under the influence of Valentinus and produced a work which is preserved in Coptic under the title <ts>Apocryphon of John</ts> and which served Irenaeus as a source for his presentation of those [[*54]] gnostics.\23/ It must therefore have originated prior to 180, and that type of Egyptian gnosticism must be older still.
\18/ According to the ps.-Clementine <ts>Hom.</ts> 2.22, Simon Magus already is supposed to have acquired all his gnostic knowledge and skill in Alexandria (cf. 2.24). [Actually, the texts speak of "Egypt" in general as the source of Simon's "magic."]
\19/ The Valentinians still had communities in Egypt in the second half of the fourth century, as well as elsewhere in the East. Cf. Harnack, <tm>Geschichte</tm>, 1. 1: 174.
\20/ Cf. Harnack, <tm>Mission</tm>\2, 2: 159-162 (= German\4 2: 707- 710). J. P. Kirsch, <tm>Die Kirche in der antiken griechisch- römischen Kulturwelt</tm> (1930), pp. 185-195. I mention here only persons and movements that can be proved to belong to Egypt. The fact that the widely travelled and very well read collector, Clement of Alexandria, knows and fights them is not in itself sufficient evidence (cf. <ts>Strom.</ts> 7.[17.]108), Nevertheless, it is more than likely that other such heretics also flourished in Egypt, without leaving behind any express witness.
\21/ Tertullian <ts>Prescription against the Heretics</ts> 30; Harnack, <tm>Marcion</tm>\2, pp. 177 and 179f.
\22/ <ts>Ref.</ts> 7.7.33 and 10.21, [According to the corresponding Latin material preserved in Irenaeus AH 1.26.1 (= 2l), "in Asia" not "Egypt"]
\23/ AH 1.29 (= 27); C. Schmidt, "Irenäus und seine Quelle in adv, haer. I, 29." in <tm>Philotesia</tm> (Festschift for Paul Kleinert; Berlin, 1907), pp. 315-336. [The text has now been edited by W. Till, <tm>Die gnostichen Schriften des koptichen Papyrus Berolinensis 8502</tm> (TU 60, 1955), pp. 33-51, 79-195. For other recently discovered Coptic forms of the text, see M. Krause and P. Labib (eds.), <tm>Die drei Versionen des Apokryphon Johannes im koptichen Museum zu Alt-Kairo</tm> (Abhandlung der Deutsche Akad. I, Koptische Reihe 1; Berlin, 1962). An ET of Till's text may be found in R. M. Grant, <ta>Gnosticism: an Anthology</ta> (London: Collins, 1961), 69-85, and further discussion of the document by H. C. Puech in Hennecke-Schneemelcher, 1: 314-331.]
There are also other writings which, like the one just mentioned, betray their homeland by their language: Coptic-gnostic gospels and other apocryphal materials,\24/ including the <ts>Pistis Sophia</ts> (which in turn presupposes the use of the gnostic <ts>Odes of Solomon</ts> in Egypt), and the <ts>Books of Jeû</ts> -- gnosticism of the first water. We have also recently learned of a very copious Manichean literature in Coptic.\25/ []
\24/ C. Schmidt, "Ein vorirenäisches gnostisches Originalwerk in koptischer Sprache," Sb Berlin for 1896, pp. 839-847. Cf. Hennecke, "Bruchstücke gnostischer und verwandter Evangelien," Hennecke\2, pp. 69 ff. [A more up-to-date survey of these materials by H. C. Puech is now available in ET in Hennecke- Schneemelcher, 1: 231-362 (see also pp. 511-531).]
\25/ C. Schmidt and H. J. Polotsky, "Ein Mani-Fund in Ägypten," Sb Berlin 1 for 1933. [More recently, cf. H. Ibscher, <tm>Manichaean Manuscripts in the Chester Beatty Collection, 2: A Manichaean Psalm-Book</tm>, 2 (Stuttgart, 1938), and <tm>Manichäiche Handschriften der staatlichen Museen Berlin, 1: Kephalia</tm>, 1 (Stuttgart, 1940). See also below, 315 n. 35.]
Although some of this literature certainly must be dated subsequent to the year 200, there still belongs to the beginning of the second century that book which Clement of Alexandria, the earliest possible witness for such things, already knows by the title <ts>The Gospel of the Egyptians</ts>.\26/ The construction with <gk>kata</gk> is here, as in the similarly formed supcrscriptions to the canonical gospels (e.g. <gk>to kata Mattaion euaggelion</gk>) a good Greek substitute for the genitive. Since there surely never had been a heretical group called "the Egyptians," the designation <ts>Gospel of the Egyptians</ts> points back to a time in which the Christians of Egypt used this gospel, and only this gospel, as their "life of Jesus." And the pronounced heretical viewpoint of the <ts>Gospel of the Egyptians</ts>\27/ accords well with what we have had to conjecture about the earliest state of Egyptian Christianity. For several of the gnostics enumerated above, the use of the <ts>Gospel of the Egyptians</ts> is demonstrable on good authority.\28/ The Salome with whom the apocryphal gospel depicts Jesus in conversation is also a popular figure in subsequent extra-canonical [[*55]] Egyptian gospel literature.\29/ Moreover, the followers of the Egyptian gnostic Carpocrates derived the origin of their teaching from Salome.\30/
\26/ <gk>To kat' Aigptious Euaggelion</gk>, <ts>Strom.</ts> 3.(9.)63, 3.(13.)93.
\27/ Cf. Bauer, RGG\2, 1 (1927): 114; Hennecke in Hennecke\2, pp. 55-59. [More recently, O. Cullmann in RGG\3, 1 (1957): 126 f.; W. Schneemelcher in Hennecke-Schneemelcher, 1: 166-78.]
\28/ Theodotus, in Clement of Alexandia <ts>Excerpts from Theodotus</ts> 67 (cf. <ts>Strom.</ts> 3.[6.]45,3, 3.[9.]63-64 and 66); Julius Cassianus, in <ts>Strom.</ts> 3. (13.)92-93. The gnostic Naassenes also made use of it according to Hippolytus <ts>Ref</ts>. 5.7.
\29/ Cf. <ts>Pistis Sophia</ts>, ed. by C. Schmidt in his Koptich- gnostiche Schriften, 1 (GCS 13, 1905): 401, col. 2 (name and subject index) (revised by W. Till (GCS 45, 1954\2), p. 417, col. 2]. The Coptic text was published by Schmidt in <tm>Coptica</tm>, 2 (Copenhagen 1925), with the name index on p. 450. [For ET of <ts>Pistis Sophia</ts> see G. R. S. Mead (London, 1921\2) or G. Horner (London, 1924).]
\30/ So Celsus according to Origen <ts>Against Celsus</ts> 5.62. Surely it is they who are concealed behind the name "<gk>A(rpocratianoi</gk>" that is transmitted in the text.
It may seem remarkable that the name <ts>Gospel of the Egyptians</ts> should arise in Egypt itself and be used by Christians there. They would have had no occasion to speak of their lone gospel as the gospel "of the Egyptians." It would simply be the gospel. The special designation presupposes a plurality of gospels which makes a distinction necessary. Quite right! It is only in this context that the expression [] "of the Egyptians" can be correctly appreciated. The phrase would be completely incomprehensible if one supposes that only a heretical minority of the Egyptian Christians used this book while, on the contrary, the majority employed the canonical gospel, or at least some of them. The gospel of a minority could never have been called simply the <ts>Gospel of the Egyptians</ts>.\31/ And neither the Gospel of Matthew, nor that of Luke, really constitutes a plausible (i.e. a natural) antithesis to the <ts>Gospel of the Egyptians</ts>.
\31/ Cf. (L. Mitteis and) U. Wilcken, <tm>Grundzüge und Crestomathie der Papyrusurkunde</tm>, 1.2 (<tm>Chrestomathie</tm>) (Leipzig: Teubner, 1912), 22.17 (p. 38 f.), where the "true Egyptians" (<5alhqinoi Aiguptioi>5) are distinguished from the grecianized Alexandrians (= Papyrus Giessen 40, dated 215 c.e.).
Now it is instructive that the same Alexandrians who speak of the <ts>Gospel of the Egyptians</ts> refer to another gospel with the title <ts>The Gospel of the Hebrews</ts>.\32/ From the beginning, an unlucky star has hovered over the <ts>Gospel of the Hebrews</ts> and its investigation, in that Jerome used this name to designate a Jewish-Christian revision of the Gospel of Matthew which he found among the Nazarenes in Beroea (a work we would do better to call the Gospel of the Nazarenes), and Epiphanius confused the <ts>Gospel of the Hebrews</ts> with the <ts>Gospel of the Ebionites</ts>. What we know of both these Jewish Christian gospels [[*56]] clearIy has nothing to do with that <ts>Gospel of the Hebrews</ts> that was known in Egypt.\33/ The latter probably was composed during the first half of the second century, in Greek, and I should suppose, in Egypt. It is there that it makes its first appearance,\34/ and to that country belong the Jesus-logia of the Oxyrhynchus papyri with which it has affinities in content. Note that we also find among the "logia" of Oxyrhynchus papyrus 654 a dominical saying which Clement of Alexandria cites from the <ts>Gospel of the Hebrews</ts>: [] "He who seeks will not rest until he has found and when he has found he will marvel, and when he has marvelled he will reign, and when he has reigned he will rest."\35/
\32/ <gk>To kaq' E(braious Euaggelion</gk>. Clement of Alexandia <ts>Strom</ts>. 2.[9.]45.5; Origen <ts>Commentary on John</ts> 2.(12.)87 [and elsewhere]. Origen also refers to the <ts>Gospel of the Egyptians</ts> in his first <ts>Homily on Luke</ts> (ed. M. Rauer, GCS 35 = Origenes 9, 1930). The texts are collected in E. Klostermann (ed.), <tm>Apocrypha 2: Evangelien</tm> (Kleine Texte 8, 1929\3), p. 4. [For ET, see Hennecke-Schneemelcher, 1: 120, 164, 166 (and 55).]
\33/ Cf. Bauer, RGG\2, 2 (1928): 1673; A. Schmidtke, <tm>Neue Fragmente und Untersuchungen zu den juden-christlichen Evangelien</tm> (TU 37.1, 1911); H. Waitz in Hennecke\2, pp. 10-32, 39-55. [See now H. W. Surkau in RGG\3, 3 (1959): 109; and P. Vielhauer in Hennecke-Schneemelcher, 1: 117-165.]
\34/ When Eusebius (EH 4.22.8) states that Hegesippus quoted from the <ts>Gospel of the Hebrews</ts> and from the Syriac (Gospel), we should probably refer the former to the <ts>Gospel of the Nazarenes</ts> (cf, Jerome <ts>Illustrious Men</ts> 3) and the latter to the <ts>Gospel of the Ebionites</ts> (cf. EH 3.27.4 and 6.17).\35/ Clement of Alexandria <ts>Strom</ts>. 2.(9.)45.5 and 5.(14.)96.3. [For the text of P. Ox. 654 see B. P. Grenfell and A. S. Hunt, <tm>The Oxyrhynchus Papyri</tm>, 4 (London, 1903), with reproductions (also Klostermann's ed. mentioned above, n. 32). This papyrus has now been identified as part of the <ts>Gospel of Thomas</ts> (see Schneemelcher and Puech in Hennecke-Schneemelcher, 1: 97ff.,278- 307), and there are some recent commentators who would argue for a Syrian rather than Egyptian origin of the Gospel (e.g. H. Koester in HarvTR 58 (1965): 293; see below, p. 310.]
If I am not mistaken, the <ts>Gospel of the Hebrews</ts> was the "life of Jesus" used by the Jewish Christians of Alexandria. "Hebrews" can also mean Greek-speaking Jews when it is a matter of designating their nationality. Paul, a hellenistic Jew, spoke of himself in this way (Phil. 3.5, 2 Cor. 11.22), and Eusebius applies the same term to Philo of Alexandria, a Jew of Greek culture (EH 2.4.2). The recently discovered door superscription in Corinth reads "Synagogue of the Hebrews." The ancient title of the <ts>Epistle to the Hebrews</ts> means by <gk>E)braioi</gk> Jewish (-Christian) recipients who spoke Greek. Indeed, the words of an Egyptian magical text, "I adjure you by the God of the Hebrews, Jesus,"\36/ sound almost like an echo of those persons who oriented themselves around the <ts>Gospel of the Hebrews</ts>. In contrast to it, the <ts>Gospel of the Egyptians</ts> was the gospel of the "real" Egyptians (see n.31 above) who had become Christian -- the gentile Christians of Egypt. In such circumstances, the genesis of the name and its use in Egypt become intelligible.
\36/ Paris Magical Papyrus [Bibl. Nat. suppl. gr. 574], line 3019. [For the text, see K. Preisendanz, <tm>Papyri Graecae Magicae: die griechischen Zauberpapyri</tm>, 1 (Leipzig: Teubner, 1928): 170. An ET may be found in C. K. Barrett, <tm>The New Testament Background: Selected Documents</tm> (London: SPCK, 1956; reprint Harper Torchbooks), no. 27 lines 13ff. This section of the Paris papyrus also closes with the words "the sentence is Hebrew and kept by men that are pure" (3084 f.).]
It is quite in harmony with our conception of the original situation in Christian Egypt that the <ts>Gospel of the Hebrews</ts> clearly displays the heretical trademark. In the fragment preserved by Origen, Jesus declares (on an occasion that we can no longer recover with certainty): "Just now [[*57]] my mother, the Holy Spirit, siezed me by one of my hairs and carried me away to the high mountain Tabor."\37/ [] According to Cyril of Jerusalem, the following also stood in the <ts>Gospel of the Hebrews</ts>: "When Christ desired to come to earth to men, the good Father chose a mighty Power in heaven named Michael, and entrusted Christ to its care. And the Power entered the world and was called Mary, and Christ was in her womb seven months."\38/ The great importance which Michael has in the Egyptian magical texts -- Greek\39/ as as well as Coptic\40/ -- and in the <ts>Pistis Sophia</ts>\41/ is well known.
\37/ <ts>Commentary on John</ts> 2.(12.)87, <ts>Homily in Jeremiah</ts> 15.4 [The passage is also cited by Jerome; see the references by Vielhauer in Hennecke-Schneemelcher, 1: 164.]
\38/ See V. Burch, <tp>Journal of Theological Studies</tp> 21 (1920): 310-315. [The Coptic text was edited by E. A. W. Budge, <tm>Miscellaneous Coptic Texts</tm> (London, 1915), p. 60 (ET on p. 637), See also Vielhauer in Hennecke-Schneemelcher, 1: 163 and M. R. James, <tm>The Apocryphal New Testament</tm> (Oxford: Clarendon, 1924, 1953\2), p. 8 (with a larger context). "The good Father" seems preferable to Bauer's German version "der Vatergott" (the Father God).]
\39/ See Preisendanz, <tm>Papyri Magicae</tm> (above, n. 36), vols. 1 (1928) and 2 (1931); e.g: numbers 1 (line 301), 2 (158), 3 (148), 4 (1815, 2356, 2769), 7 (257), 13 (928), and 22b (29 -- to the great father, Osiris Michael).
\40/ A. M. Kropp, <tm>Ausgewählte koptische Zaubertexte</tm>, 2 (Brussels, 1931): 267 (index).
\41/ Cf. the indices to the eds. of Schmidt (above, n. 29); German (GCS), 397 col. 2 [= 413 col. 2 in Till's revision]; Coptic, 450.
Thus in Egypt at the beginning of the second century -- how long before that we cannot say -- there were gentile Christians alongside Jewish Christians, with both movements resting on syncretistic-gnostic foundations. But apparently they were not both united in a single community, but each group congregated around a distinctive gospel, with the Jewish Christians at the same time also being influenced by the synagogue with regard to worship and organization. That these people, whose primary religious books were differentiated as the <ts>Gospel of the Egyptians</ts> and that <ts>of the Hebrews</ts>, called themselves simply "Christian" seems to me self-evident. For them, the situation was no different from that of the Marcionites in Edessa (above, 22-24).
We first catch sight of something like "ecclesiastical" Chistianity in Demetrius, the bishop of Alexandria from 189 to 231. Certainly there had already been orthodox believers there prior to that time, and their community possessed a leader. But we can see how small their number must have been from the fact that when Demetrius assumed his office he was the only Egyptian "bishop." Apart from him there were a limited number of presbyters, who when need arose elected a new leader.\42/ Demetrius was the first to begin to develop the organization systematically by appointing three other [] bishops. He played [[*58]] approximately the same role for Egyptian orthodoxy as that which we have thought should be ascribed to Bishop Kûnê, who lived a century later, in Edessa (above, 33-43). Demetrius lived long enough to achieve success and possessed a consciousness of his own power that was sufficient to take disciplinary action against even an Origen, when the latter crossed his organizational policies (which aimed at concentrating all power in the hands of the leader of the Alexandrian church) by accepting elevation to the status of presbyter at the hands of Palestinian bishops.
\42/ E. Preuschen, RPTK\3, 14 (1904): 474 (lines 30 ff.).
The fact of presbyterial ordination by itself would hardly suffice to explain the extraordinarily violent behavior of Demetrius toward a man of Origen's importance and reputation. Such a dangerous game must have offered a correspondingly desirable prize. Obviously Demetrius felt powerful enough in the years 230-231 to press the Alexandrian catechetical school into service for himself. Here Origen, whom he had earlier actually implored not to give up his work (EH 6.14.11) stood in his way. For this reason he now unleashed, as Origen himself puts it, all the storms of wickedness against him and attacked him through writings which plainly contradicted the gospel (<ts>Commentary on John</ts> 6.[2.]9). Among these undoubtedly belongs the circular letter\43/ by means of which Demetrius apprized Christendom of the decisions which he directed his Egyptian bishops and presbyters to reach in two synods -- namely, Origen is to be banished from the city, and further teaching activity is forbidden him as a representative of unecclesiastical views. His ordination as priest is invalid.\44/ In order to justify his action, Demetrius made an issue of Origen's act of self-castration which had taken place long since (EH 6.8.5).
\43/ Eusebius EH 6.8.4; Jerome <ts>Illustrious Men</ts> 54.
\44/ O. Bardenhewer, <tm>Geschichte der altkirchlichen Literatur</tm>\2, 2 (Freiburg: Herder, 1914; repr. Darmstadt, 1962): 109.
In 231, Heraclas became director of the catechetical school in place of the banished Origen. He was indebted to Origen for the best of what he was and knew; nevertheless, he abandoned him and took sides against him. Indeed, when Origen later returned once more to Egypt, Heraclas excommunicated him anew and repeated the charge of unecclesiastical teaching. His decisive support for Demetrius had [] borne fruit also in that he had become his successor in the bishop's chair at Alexandria.\45/ [[*59]]
\45/ EH 6.26. Cf. A. Harnack, RPTK\3 7 (1899): 693.
When Julius Africanus takes the opportunity in his <ts>Chronicles</ts> to report that he travelled to Alexandria because he was attracted by Heraclas' great reputation for learning (EH 6.31.2), we can see how quickly after Origen's removal the catechetical school entered the service of decidedly "ecclesiastical" efforts with obvious publicity. Eusebius took his list of Alexandrian bishops from the <ts>Chronicle</ts> of Africanus.\46/ And from what source can the latter have obtained it except from the very learned head of the school, Heraclas, and his bishop, Demetrius?\47/ Thus there was being cultivated at that time in Alexandria that branch of theological endeavor which fought and tried to discredit the heretics by appealing to an unbroken succession of orthodox bishops. We also suspect whence this new incentive to scholarly studies derived. We learn from Jerome that while in the nearby regions of Palestine, Arabia, Phoenicia, and even Achaia, nobody was concerned about Demetrius' circular letter, Rome hastened to support it.\48/ Origen had been at Rome during the episcopate of Zephyrinus (198-217), but departed after a short time (EH 6.14.10). It would seem that little goodwill existed between them. Certainly, as Jerome rightly remarks (<ts>Epistle</ts> 33.5), what was of decisive importance for the attitude of Rome as well as for that of Demetrius was their jealous fear lest they be eclipsed by the incomparable eloquence and erudition of Origen and forced into the background. But this state of mind surely also opened their eyes to those aspects of Origen's teaching [[*60]] which must have seemed to them to be inadequate. [] At all events, Origen took advantage of an opportunity to make a positive defence of his orthodoxy before the Roman bishop Fabianus (236-250; EH 6.36.4).
\46/ Cf. Harnack, <tm>Geschichte</tm> 2 (<tm>Chronologie</tm>).1: 123;Schwartz, GCS eds. of Eusebius' EH, vol. 3, ccxxi.
\47/ The journey of Africanus to Alexandria is usually dated earlier, around the year 215 (Harnack, RPTK\3, 9 : 627), probably because the date 221 is held with absolute certainty as the year in which the <ts>Chronicle</ts> was published. I can see no really convincing evidence for thus fixing either date. That the <ts>Chronicle</ts> of Africanus was intended to run only up to the year 221 does not exclude the possibility that at a somewhat later time he could have procured material for the period before 221 and incorporated it. In any event, Eusebius seems to think that Heraclas was already bishop at the time of the visit (EH 6.31.2). And even if Africanus obtained the Alexandrian list before 221, it unquestionably came from the circle of Demetrius.
\48/ <ts>Epistle</ts> 33 (ad Paulum).5. Concerning the relations between Rome and "ecclesiastical" Alexandria, see also below, p. 60.
But what sort of Christianity existed in Alexandria-Egypt in the half century that preceded the victory, backed by Rome, of Demetrius and his policy? At the end of his life, Demetrius fought Origen most vehemently and drove him out of his sphere of activity where he had accomplished enormous things, and even out of his native city. In contrast, at the beginning of his tenure Demetrius had no ear for Rome's wishes in the matter of the Easter controversy;\49/ nor had he molested Origen's predecessor, Clement, although the latter deviated from the teaching of the church far more than did his successor. It may here suffice to recall the harsh judgment which Photius passed regarding the <ts>Outlines</ts> (<ts>Hypotyposeis</ts>) of Clement:\50/
In some passages\51/ he appears to teach quite correctly, but in others he allows himself to be carried away entirely into impious and fictitious assertions. For he holds that matter is eternal, and he seeks to derive something like a doctrine of ideas from certain passages of scripture, and he reduces the Son to the status of a creation. Moreover, he drivels on about transmigrations of souls and many worlds before Adam. And with reference to the origin of Eve from Adam, he does not agree with the teaching of the church, but expresses his opinion in disgaceful and outrageous fashion. The angels, he fancies, interbred with women and begot children by them, and the Logos did not really become flesh but only appeared so. He also let himself be trapped by the fact that he fabricates stories about two Logoi of the Father, of which only the lesser appeared to men, or rather not even that one. . . . And all this he seeks to support from certain passages of scripture. . . . And on and on endlesly he prattles and blasphemes. . . .
\49/ Obviously Egypt, which is not even mentioned by Eusebius in this connection (EH 5.23.3-4), did not allow itself to be drawn into this quarrel. That is all the clearer since it had no reason for denying support to Rome on this point (EH 5.25).
\50/ <ts>Library</ts>, codex 109. The text is also included in the GCS edition of Clement by O. Stählin, vol. 3 (GCS 17, 1909), p. 202 [now being re-edited by L. Früchtel. For a convenient ET, see J. H. Freese, <tm>The Library of Photius</tm>(London: SPCK, 1920), p. 200.]
\51/ That is, passages dealing with the Old and New Testaments, which are interpreted and discussed in the <ts>Outlines</ts>.
Photius is inclined to express his opinion here rather pointedly; nonetheless, his hostility must have been provoked to a large extent [] by the work which he thus discusses. [[*61]] His orthodoxy detected an abundance of heresy alongside isolated ecclesiastical statements. Clement never lost his enthusiasm for "gnosis." To be sure, he makes a distinction between genuine and heretical gnosis, and feels himself to be separated from the latter and linked with the former through the holy apostles Peter, James, John, and Paul (<ts>Strom</ts>. 1.[1.] 11.3). But this does not keep him from having some central points in common with heretical gnosticism; and this is even more true of the earlier work, the <ts>Outlines</ts>, than of the later <ts>Miscellanies</ts> (<ts>Stromateis</ts>).\52/ We can clearly discern at Alexandria the stages of a development that steadily leads away from gnosticism: the Clement of the <ts>Outlines</ts>, the Clement of the <ts>Miscellanies</ts>, Origen, Demetrius. If we trace the line backward behind the <ts>Outlines</ts> to the origins, we obviously arrive very quickly at gnosticism proper. One need not be surprised that even the Clement of the first stage already exhibits characteristics of ecclesiastical orientation, as Photius himself does not deny. From the very outset, Clement distinguished himself in a conscious and not inconsiderable way from what we have delineated as Egyptian Christianity prior to his time. After all, he came to Egypt from abroad in order to place himself under the influence of Pantaenus (who was himself from Sicily; <ts>Strom</ts>. 1.[1.]11.2). Perhaps Clement was born in Athens;\53/ in any event, as a Christian he had been in southern Italy, Syria, and Palestine. Probably Clement first became acquainted with the <ts>Gospel of the Egyptians</ts> in his new home. And it is very characteristic of the intellectual outlook that he brings with him and cultivates further, that he no more rejects its contents as false than he rejects the contents of the <ts>Gospel of the Hebrews</ts>, although he himself personally prefers our four gospels which he learned to value in the world abroad, and which he regards as, strictly speaking, the gospels of the church.
\52/ On the relation of the <ts>Miscellanies</ts> to the <ts>Outlines</ts>, see Harnack, <tm>Geschichte</tm> 2 (<tm>Chronologie</tm>) .2 (1904): 19 f.
\53/ According to the tradition in Epiphanius <ts>Her</ts>. 32.6. See further T. Zahn, <tm>Forschungen zur Geschichte des neutestamentlichen Kanons und der altkirchlichen Literatur</tm> 3 (Leipzig, 1884), pp. 161 ff.
Now if Demetrius allowed a man who thought and taught as Clement did to operate undisturbed in a most influential position, and first lashed out against Origen, who was far less offensive from the viewpoint of the church, it seems to me that the most obvious [] explanation is that there existed no prospect [[*62]] of successfully assailing ideas like these and the personalities who supported them one generation earlier in Alexandria. No possibility -- and perhaps not even any serious inclination.
There is every reason at least to raise the question whether distinct boundaries between heretical and ecclesiastical Christendom had been developed at all in Egypt by the end of the second century. So as to set aside less certain evidence, I will disregard the <tm>Epistle of the Apostles</tm>, preserved in Coptic and Ethiopic, which C. Schmidt published with full commentary and supplementary materials in 1919\54/ and which he dated shortly before 180, although I am inclined to accept the opinion of Lietzmann\55/ that it belongs not to Asia Minor but rather, to Egypt. With its peculiar mixture of gnosticism and anti-gnosticism, it would relate well to the situation of Clement of Alexandria. Similarly, we shall leave undecided to what extent the <tm>Preaching (Kerygma) of Peter</tm>,\56/ which was particularly suspect to Origen (<ts>Commentary on John</ts> 13.[17.]104) but was used unhesitatingly prior to him by Clement of Alexandria and the gnostic Heracleon, is relevant here.
\54/ <tm>Gesprache Jesu mit seinen Jüngern</tm> (TU 43, 1919). [ET by R. E. Taylor in Hennecke-Schneemelcher, 1: 189 ff.]
\55/ ZNW 20 (1921): 175 f.
\56/ Cf. E. Dobschütz, <tm>Das Kerygma Petri kritisch untersucht</tm> (TU 11.1, 1893). The fragments are conveniently collected by E. Klostermann in <tm>Apocrypha</tm>, 1\2 (KT 3, 1908), 13-16. Cf. Hennecke, "Missions predigt des Petrus," in Hennecke\2, pp. 143- 146, although with regard to p. 145 one may question whether it would not be more accurate to speak of "certain ecclesiastical forms" rather than of "certain gnostical forms." [For ET, see G. Ogg in Hennecke-Schneemelcher, 2: 94-102.]
But the following observations and considerations can surely teach us something. When Origen had to find lodging after the martyrdom of his father and the loss of the confiscated family property, a distinguished and wealthy Christian woman offered him accommodations in her household. Now Eusebius informs us that this woman also had living in her house a very famous man from among the number of heretics (<gk>ai(resiotai</gk>) in Alexandria at that time, and that she treated him like her son. He was named Paul and had come from Antioch, and in consequence of his great reputation there flocked to him a "countless host of persons, heretics as well as orthodox believers" (EH 6.2.13-14). If we leave aside the conviction of the later [] Churchman Eusebius that heretical Christendom and orthodoxy always must have been clearly distinguished from one another, we obtain the picture [[*63]] of a Christianity which sees nothing amiss in entrusting at a most impressionable age so valuable a member as the seventeen-year-old Origen, already widely recognized because of his extraordinary gifts, to a woman whose house is the center of a wide-ranging religious movement that definitely cannot be characterized as orthodox. In that event we have before us a community whose intellectually fastidious members do not hesitate to satisfy their hunger by means of an Antiochene-Alexandrian "heretic."
A few pages later, Eusebius reports something very similar of Origen, who for him naturally was a representative of orthodoxy. To Origen also there flocked "countless heretics" (EH 6.18.2) as well as orthodox, in order to be instructed by him in all areas of learning, including the secular. Yet even more instructive than this general statement about the geat popularity that his well-known erudition enjoyed even among the heretics is the specific notice that his famous friend and patron, Ambrose, to whom he dedicated many of his writings, had been a Valentinian who was subsequently converted by Origen.\57/ He too, incidentally, came from Antioch.\58/
\57/ EH 6.18.1 (cf. also 6.23.1). According to Jerome, <ts>Illustrious Men</ts> 56, Ambrose had been a Marcionite. Origen also indicates that Ambrose was later persuaded of the correctness of Origen's position: <ts>Commentary on John</ts> 5.8 (GCS ed. Preuschen, p. 105, lines 16 ff.). The passages in our sources concerning Ambrose are conveniently collected in Harnack, <ts>Geschichte</ts>, 1.1: 328 ff.
\58/ E. Preuschen, RPTK\3, 14 (1904): 473 (line 30).
Thus even into the third century, no separation between orthodoxy and heresy was accomplished in Egypt and the two types of Christianity were not yet at all clearly differentiated from each other.\59/ Moreover, until late in the second century, Christianity in this area was decidedly unorthodox. I avoid for the moment the term "heretics" for the Egyptian Christians of the early Period (and the same holds for the beginnings at Edessa) because, strictly speaking there can be heretics only where orthodox Christians stand in contrast to them or serve as a backgound for them, but not where such a situation does not exist because all Christendom, when viewed from a particular later vantage point, is colored "heretical." The idea that orthodoxy had been present in Egypt from the very first can as little be proven [] by the church legend of Mark as the [[*64]] founder and first occupant of the Alexandrian episcopal see\60/ as can the corresponding proposition for Edessa by the Abgar legend. Rather, the fact that one has to rely on legends is a fresh and clear indication that historical recollection did not support, and never was the basis of, such a view. There is some reason to suppose that Rome placed at the disposal of orthodox Alexandria the figure of Mark as founder of the church and apostolic initiator of the traditional succession of bishops.\61/ At all events, it is not easy to imagine from what other source he could have come.
\59/ Cf. also S. Morenz, <tm>Die Geschichte von Joseph dem Zimmermann</tm> (TU 56, 1951), p. 123.
\60/ Cf. A. Jülicher, RPTK\3, 12 (1903): 290 (lines 16 ff.). [To the older material should now be added the allusion to this tradition in a newly discovered letter attributed to Clement of Alexandria, which is being published by its discoverer, Morton Smith. See the bief reference by A. A. Ehrhardt in HarvTR 55 (1962): 97, n. 16 (reprinted with corrections in his <tm>The Framework of the New Testament Stories</tm> [Manchester, 1964], p. 175 n. 3); see also below, p. 315 n. 34.]
\61/ Regarding the relation of Rome to Alexandria and to its orthodoxy, see also above, p. 55, and below, pp. 97 and 117.
//End of Ch.2//