Friday, February 02, 2007

Eusebius on Apostolic Succession - II

After the martyrdom of James and the conquest of Jerusalem which immediately followed, it is said that those of the apostles and disciples of the Lord that were still living came together from all directions with those that were related to the Lord according to the flesh (for the majority of them also were still alive) to take counsel as to who was worthy to succeed James.

They all with one consent pronounced Symeon, the son of Clopas, of whom the Gospel also makes mention; to be worthy of the episcopal throne of that parish. He was a cousin, as they say, of the Saviour. For Hegesippus records that Clopas was a brother of Joseph.
We see that just as with Judas Iscariot(1), the apostle's role was seen as something to be succeeded and or fulfilled.
After Vespasian had reigned ten years Titus, his son, succeeded him. In the second year of his reign, Linus, who had been bishop of the church of Rome for twelve years, delivered his office to Anencletus.

In the twelfth year of the same reign Clement succeeded Anencletus after the latter had been bishop of the church of Rome for twelve years. The apostle in his Epistle to the Philippians informs us that this Clement was his fellow-worker. His words are as follows: "With Clement and the rest of my fellow-laborers whose names are in the book of life."

There is extant an epistle of this Clement which is acknowledged to be genuine and is of considerable length and of remarkable merit. He wrote it in the name of the church of Rome to the church of Corinth, when a sedition had arisen in the latter church. We know that this epistle also has been publicly used in a great many churches both in former times and in our own. And of the fact that a sedition did take place in the church of Corinth at the time referred to Hegesippus is a trustworthy witness.
Even in the first century, Rome is already being understood in her proper, pastoral role.
After Nerva had reigned a little more than a year he was succeeded by Trajan. It was during the first year of his reign that Abilius, who had ruled the church of Alexandria for thirteen years, was succeeded by Cerdon.

He was the third that presided over that church after Annianus, who was the first. At that time Clement still ruled the church of Rome, being also the third that held the episcopate there after Paul and Peter.

Linus was the first, and after him came Anencletus.

At this time Ignatius was known as the second bishop of Antioch, Evodius having been the first. Symeon likewise was at that time the second ruler of the church of Jerusalem, the brother of our Saviour having been the first.
One might begin to wonder why the succession of bishops was so important to Eusebius and the other fathers...

Eusebius quotes St. Clement:
"Listen to a tale, which is not a mere tale, but a narrative concerning John the apostle, which has been handed down and treasured up in memory. For when, after the tyrant's death, he returned from the isle of Patmos to Ephesus, he went away upon their invitation to the neighboring territories of the Gentiles, to appoint bishops in some places, in other places to set in order whole churches, elsewhere to choose to the ministry some one of those that were pointed out by the Spirit."
Again, this is thoroughly Catholic. Apostles (and only apostles) have the ability to appoint bishops. They went around 'making disciples of all nations' and setting 'in order whole churches'. In other words, they established the hierarchy of the Catholic Church. What an interesting concept to affirm that it continues to this day and that "the gates of hell" did not prevail against it.

In the third year of the reign of the emperor mentioned above, Clement committed the episcopal government of the church of Rome to Evarestus, and departed this life after he had superintended the teaching of the divine word nine years in all.

But when Symeon also had died in the manner described, a certain Jew by the name of Justus succeeded to the episcopal throne in Jerusalem. He was one of the many thousands of the circumcision who at that time believed in Christ.

At that time Polycarp, a disciple of the apostles, was a man of eminence in Asia, having been entrusted with the episcopate of the church of Smyrna by those who had seen and heard the Lord.

And at the same time Papias, bishop of the parish of Hierapolis, became well known, as did also Ignatius, who was chosen bishop of Antioch, second in succession to Peter, and whose fame is still celebrated by a great many.


And there were many others besides these who were known in those days, and who occupied the first place among the successors of the apostles. And they also, being illustrious disciples of such great men, built up the foundations of the churches which had been laid by the apostles in every place, and preached the Gospel more and more widely and scattered the saving seeds of the kingdom of heaven far and near throughout the whole world.

For indeed most of the disciples of that time, animated by the divine word with a more ardent love for philosophy, had already fulfilled the command of the Saviour, and had distributed their goods to the needy. Then starting out upon long journeys they performed the office of evangelists, being filled with the desire to preach Christ to those who had not yet heard the word of faith, and to deliver to them the divine Gospels.

And when they had only laid the foundations of the faith in foreign places, they appointed others as pastors, and entrusted them with the nurture of those that had recently been brought in, while they themselves went on again to other countries and nations, with the grace and the co-operation of God.
If a Catholic apologist were to forge Church history as written in the 4th century in order to cause it to lean toward Catholicism, he might very well write something similar to what we just read. Thanks to Eusebius, that won't be necessary.


NotMyOpinion30 said...

"If a Catholic apologist were to forge Church history as written in the 4th century in order to cause it to lean toward Catholicism, he might very well write something similar to what we just read. Thanks to Eusebius, that won't be necessary.

And did Eusebius have any reason himself to forge Catholic history? Not exactly. The Christian world was Catholic at the time. This is a history of the Catholic Church, he didn't write it to prove anything to anyone. And if he did who was there that he needed to prove it to? That wouldn't be necessary for another 1200 years.

Biased history? Nah.

TheGodFearinFiddler said...

Thats what Im saying. A Catholic forgery isnt necessary since the original authentic work is so thoroughly Catholic.

NotMyOpinion30 said...

It's awesome reading the Early Fathers. They always make great posts. Great post(s). I'm so glad we have a solid rock to lean on.