« AnteriorContinua »
in the place above citedc. “ They use only the Gospel of “ Matthew in part, but not the whole of it; for they have “ taken away the genealogy of our Saviour according to the “ flesh out of their Gospel :” which that the Ebionites did also, appears from what the same author says in another placed; having produced a passage out of the Gospel of the Ebionites according to Matthew, he adds, “ Cerinthus and Carpocras “ making use of the same Gospel of Matthew (as they call it) “ with the Ebionites who have erased out of their copies “ the genealogy of Christ, and begin their Gospel at these “ words, And it came to pass in the days of Herod the king." (Matt. iii. 1.) The design of their agreement to omit the genealogy, and the first and second chapters, was, that their notion of Christ's being a mere man might not be contradicted and confuted, which they certainly had been, if the account there given of the Virgin's conception by the Holy Ghost were credited e.
Upon the whole then, it seems not unfair to conclude, that the Gospel of Cerinthus and his followers was no other than the Ebionite or Nazarene Gospel, i. e. the Gospel of St. Matthew corrupted and interpolated, in Hebrew. A further account of this Gospel, together with all its fragments, will be produced in its proper place, viz. under the title of The Gospel of the Nazarenes. I shall only add further here, that the ancient heretics, called the Alogi, ascribed the Gospel of John and the Revelations to Cerinthus, as the author of both; and upon that score rejected them as apocryphalf: but how absurd this opinion was, Epiphanius has well shewn; and I shall endeavour to prove hereafter, viz. as to the Gospel in the last part of this work, and as to the Revelation in the following chapter. c Hæres. 28. 8. 5.
onites who reject it, yet he cannot d Hæres. 30. §. 14.
mean that those heretics owned the e It is to be observed, that though genealogy, but only argued upon the Epiphanius in the place last cited supposition of its being true : for if seems to intimate, that Cerinthus and otherwise, he must contradict himself Carpocras attempted to prove our Sa- in the other places cited. viour to be a mere man from the ge
r Hæres. 51. &. 3. nealogy, Matth. i. contrary to the Ebi
CH ΑΡ. ΧΙΙΙ. The Revelation of Cerinthus not the same with the Revelation
of St. John, but compiled out of it; on which account the canonical Revelation was so long of doubtful authority.
No. XI. The Revelation of Cerinthus. THIS apocryphal piece is only mentioned by Caius, or Gaius, a learned presbyter of Rome, in his disputation against Proclus. The fragment is preserved by Eusebius, out of whom I shall here transcribe it. 'Αλλα και Κήρινθος και δι' 'Αποκα- Cerinthus in a book of Revelaλύψεων, ως υπό αποστόλου μεγά- tions written by him, as though λου γεγραμμένων, τερατολογίας he were some great apostle, falsely ημίν ως δι' αγγέλων αυτώ δεδει
tells us of certain surprising disγμένας ψευδόμενος, επεισάγει λέ
coveries, which were made to him γων, μετά την ανάστασιν επίγειον by angels, which he thus introείναι το βασίλειον του Χριστού, duces, saying, That after the re
surrection Christ shall reign here και πάλιν επιθυμίαις και ηδοναίς
on earth, and those who dwell at εν Ιερουσαλήμ την σάρκα πολι
Jerusalem shall again serve (or τευομένην δουλεύειν. Και εχθρός be capable of) bodily lusts and υπάρχων ταϊς γραφείς του Θεού,
pleasures. To which that enemy αριθμόν χιλιονταετίας εν γάμω of the divine scriptures adds, the εορτής θέλων πλανάν λέγει γίνε- better to propagate his errors, , σθαι. Vid. Ηist. Eccl. lib. 3.
that the space of a thousand years shall be spent in marriage
feasting. . Hence it is evident that Caius knew of some book under the title of The Revelation, which pretended to inspiration, as being dictated by angels, and wrote by Cerinthus, as some great apostle; for I think nothing more just than Valesius's translation of those words, ως υπό αποστόλου μεγάλου γεγραμuerwv, a se tanquam a magno apostolo conscriptas, for otherwise it will not be possible to make any sense of the sentence. Dr. Grabe indeed imagines, that Caius ascribed the Revelation of St. John to Cerinthus in the forecited passage, and meant no other than that this canonical book was published by Cerinthus under the name of St. John 8. But the fragment which Caius produces does most evidently demonstrate the contrary,
& Spicileg. Patr. tom. I. p. 312.
because the contents of it, viz. Christ's reigning on earth, the Jews then enjoying carnal lusts and pleasures, and spending a thousand years in nuptial merriments, are no where found in the Revelation of St. John. It is true indeed, (as that learned antiquary observes,) Dionysius Alexandrinush intimates, “ that “ it was the opinion of some, that no apostle nor holy ecclesi
astical writer wrote the Revelation called St. John's, but that “ Cerinthus forged it, and, the better to propagate his notions “and gain credit to his fancies, prefixed the name of John to “ it.” He might have added too, that the heretics called Alogi were of this opinioni: but all this will not prove what he contends for, that The Revelations of St. John and Cerinthus were the same book; for besides what has been already observed out of the fragment of Caius to prove them distinct, it is evident Dionysius Alexandrinus looked upon them as such too; for though he endeavours to prove (what I hope hereafter to confute) that the Revelation under the name of John the divine, or apostle, was not wrote by him, but some other John, yet he declares his belief of it as the work eylou Tivos xai OeOtVEVO Tou, of some holy and inspired writer; whereas he had a little before condemned the pretended Revelation of Cerinthus, and his doctrine which he calls heresy, and accordingly produces the following specimen of his Revelations, as well deserving to be exploded. See Euseb. Hist. Eccl. 1. 7. c. 25. Τούτο γαρ είναι της διδασκαλίας For this is the doctrine of Cerinαυτού το δόγμα, επίγειον έσεσθαι thus, that Christ shall reign here την του Χριστού βασιλείαν, και on earth, when, as he extravaών αυτός ωρέγετο, φιλοσώματος gantly fancied, there should be ών και πάνυ σαρκικός, εν τούτοις an enjoyment of those lusts of the όνειροπολεϊν έσεσθαι, γαστρος και fesh, to which himself was exταϊς υπό γαστέρα πλησμοναϊς, Cessively inclined and addicted, τουτέστι σιτίοις, και ποτοϊς, και
viz. abundant provisions for the yápois, xa e eugnuótspor belly and the parts—i. e. with ταύτα ήθη ποριείσθαι, εορταϊς και
meats and drinks, and marriages, θυσίαις και ιερείων σφαγαϊς.
for the better accomplishing of .
which designs there should be feastings, and banquetings, and killing
of sacrifices. Lib. 2. de Promiss. apud Euseb. Hist. Eccl. 1. 7. c. 25. et l. 3. c. 28. i Hæres. 51. §. 3.
Such a book was the Revelation of Cerinthus, sufficiently different from that under the name of St. John now in the canon, and undoubtedly to be esteemed apocryphal, by Prop. IV, V, VI, VIII, and IX.
If it should be yet urged, that it is very strange, that not only the Alogians, but others who lived before Dionysius of Alexandria, and consequently very near the time of St. John, should ascribe his Book of Revelations to Cerinthus, as its author, I shall only now answer,
First, That we have very strong reason to presume the Revelation, now reputed canonical, was really wrote by him whose name it bears.
Secondly, That from the foregoing account it seems very probable, that the Revelation of Cerinthus was compiled out of that of St. John, with the addition of many trifting fancies, and perhaps the omission of some things not so agreeable to the sentiments of that heretic. This I am the rather inclined to think ; because,
1. This was a practice very common with the heretics of those early times of the church, viz. to alter the genuine records of Christianity, and to accommodate them to their own impious sentiments, retaining only so much of the true writing, as would enable them with the greater confidence to impose their spurious pieces upon the world. See above in this part, Chap. I. Observ. II. This has been already proved to be fact as to the Gospel of Bartholomew and Barnabas, and will appear hereafter to be true of the Gospel of the Ebionites, Nazarenes, Marcion, Peter, and others.
2. Because this has been proved to be the case in respect of the Gospel of Cerinthus in the preceding chapter, viz. that it was an interpolated and corrupted copy of St. Matthew; and it is not strange the same person should be guilty of the same practice with the Revelation of St. John.
3. Because, supposing the Revelation of St. John to be genuine, there can be no other cause more probable assigned, why it should have been by so many attributed to Cerinthus. Upon this hypothesis of his altering it so much, it is not strange if it was by his followers ascribed to him as its author, and so by others; and so this being known, at length even the genuine book of St. John came, by some weaker persons, who had not compared both, to be ascribed to that heretic. This will
yet seem further probable, if we consider the mysteriousness of St. John's book, which is such as would be a very likely means to give force to the common report of its being rather wrote by Cerinthus than St. John, especially if we add this further consideration of its being wrote in a style very different from those commonly received and acknowledged.
Coroll. Hence we may give at least a probable account, why the Revelation of St. John was so long of doubtful authority in the church, viz. because it was unhappily interpolated by Cerinthus immediately after its first being published, and so by many attributed to him. That this was the plain reason why the Alogians rejected it, Epiphanius expressly tells usk, and may fairly be concluded of others from what has been said. Something like this is the conjecture of Grotius concerning this matter, with whose words (because of the just reputation of the man) I will finish this chapter! “I suppose,” says he, “the reason why there have been doubts concerning “ the author and authority of this book among others, (there
given,] is, because what we read in it of the resurrection, of “ the thousand years, of Gog and Magog, agrees in sound “ with the Jewish books; and though they are here in a dif“ ferent sense, yet were perverted by Cerinthus, and some 6 Christians, who judaized too much into a plain Jewish sense.” But of this more hereafter.
CHAP. XIV. Books under the name of Christ. None of this sort mentioned
till St. Austin's time. A malicious mistake of Mr. Toland detected. An Epistle of Christ to Peter and Paul proved out of St. Austin to be a ridiculous forgery. Another book
attributed to Christ. Concerning the magic of Christ. THE books, which fall next in course under consideration, are those attributed to our Saviour Jesus Christ, which before I come particularly to consider, I would premise, that I have not found any mention of such within the limits of my time, * Loc. jam cit.
| Annot. in Titul. Apocalyps.