What Happened to the Apostles?

Apostolic Fathers IconWhile Christians often think about the death (and resurrection!) of Jesus, many Christians (especially Protestants) rarely consider how the earliest followers of Jesus lived out their last moments on earth. In part, this is because–unlike with Jesus–we have relatively few historically credible accounts of the death of the earliest leaders of the Jesus Movement. What we do have are various church traditions and accounts of the martyrdoms and deaths of the Apostles and Evangelists. Below are short renditions of some of the more widely attested accounts of the testimonies of the deaths of the apostles.

Perhaps the most widely known tradition concerning apostolic martyrdom is that of Peter who is said to have been crucified in Rome upside down during the reign of the Emperor Nero (typically dated around 64 CE). According to tradition, Peter felt unworthy to die in the same manner as the Lord Jesus, and thus was apparently crucified upside down on an x-shaped cross. Continue reading

The Trinity in the Early Church (Part II)

Holy SpiritHistorian J.W.C. Wand argues that the orthodox belief of the early church included the deity of the Holy Spirit, as it was essentially argued along with the deity of Christ in the Christological debates and was held as popular belief among Christians.[8] Yet as Rebecca Lyman argues that one cannot merely accept popular opinion as orthodoxy, for while popular belief in the church did play an important role in the defeat of Arianism, popular piety was a more divisive factor in later historical Christological debates, such as that between Cyril and Nestorius.[9] While one certainly cannot unwittingly conflate popular opinion as orthodoxy, the uniformity that existed between the orthodox Church Fathers and the general Christian population seems to indicate that worship and theology were intricately related in early Christianity, that belief and formalized doctrine were the same confession.[10] Often times the “differences” in doctrinal belief were simply a matter of use of “mutually confusing theological terms.”[11] Early Christians then used worship as the locus of their theological beliefs – how they worshiped is what they confessed. Continue reading

The Trinity in the Early Church (Part I)

Icon of the Holy Trinity (Rubilev)

Icon of the Holy Trinity (Rubilev)

The doctrine of the Trinity–espoused by the Cappadocian Fathers as “God is one object in Himself and three objects to Himself”–is commonly understood to be one of the more difficult concepts to grasp in Christian theology. Much of Early Church history revolved around debates concerning the Person of Jesus Christ and His relationship to the Father, and doctrine concerning the Holy Spirit was often not explicitly discussed. However by the time of the Cappadocian Fathers and Augustine, an explicit doctrine of the Trinity was emerging in Christendom (Kelly, 252). In her essay entitled “Why Three?” Sarah Coakley engages the Maurice Wiles’ perspective on the Trinity as espoused in his The Making of Christian Doctrine. Continue reading

Scripture in 1 Clement: Conclusions

This post is part of an ongoing series examining the function and use of scripture in the early Christian writing known as 1 Clement.

Sacred ScriptureBefore concluding this examination, I offer two final key findings and a note on the ramifications of these conclusions. First, the relationship between 1 Clement and the Gospel of Matthew remains—at the very least—an ongoing topic of conversation. Scholarship which claims insignificant connections between these two early Christian writings cannot stand in the face of the literary connections outlined here. The author of 1 Clement had access to a version of Matthew’s gospel prior to the writing of his epistle. Second, those evaluating early Christian reception history and literary allusion should not neglect the possibility of composite citations by their authors, especially in writings where clear examples of this practice exist. In contrast to the assumption of the need for formal markers to signal literary connections, consideration of composite citations may require an extensive text- and linguistic-centered comparative process, such as the above side-by-side reading of 1 Clement 46:8 alongside potential gospel parallels. Continue reading

Scripture in 1 Clement: Composite Citation of the Gospels (Part III)

This post is part of an ongoing series examining the function and use of scripture in the early Christian writing known as 1 Clement.

jesus_catacombWhat does account for 1 Clement 46:8 is Clement’s tendency to cite written passages compositely, as was noted in his use of the Jewish scriptures.[1] According to this explanation, Clement combined the words of Jesus found in two different locations of the synoptic tradition, thereby—with a single “word of the Lord”—arguing against the perils of leading the Church into schism and error. Of course, it is not enough to suggest that Clement may have compositely cited the synoptic tradition—one must also explain why he would have done so. Continue reading

Scripture in 1 Clement: Composite Citation of the Gospels (Part II)

This post is part of an ongoing series examining the function and use of scripture in the early Christian writing known as 1 Clement.

Clement of Rome

Clement of Rome

In all, six basic options have been offered regarding the source of 1 Clement 46:8: (1) Matthew 26:24, (2) Luke 17:1-2, (3) Matthew 18:6,[1] (4) Mark 9:42, (5) a combination of any or all of these sources, or (6) an extra-canonical and non-extant source such as Q.[2] Table 1 outlines a textual comparison of these synoptic passages with 1 Clement 46:8. Continue reading

Scripture in 1 Clement: Composite Citation of the Gospels (Part I)

This post is part of an ongoing series examining the function and use of scripture in the early Christian writing known as 1 Clement.

The Four Evangelists (Book of Kells)

The Four Evangelists (Book of Kells)

Clement’s relationship with written Christian texts remains far more difficult to parse than his near constant reliance on Jewish scriptures. Arguments have been made for this epistle’s use of nearly every writing now in the New Testament, [1] although in no place does Clement introduce a possible reference to these writings with anything other than a “he says/said” introduction.[2] Clement’s lack of clear citations to Christian literature contributes to the major divergence of scholarly opinion regarding this letter’s possible use of materials from the Synoptic Gospels.  Commonly noted possible parallels include the sayings on mercy and forgiveness found in 1 Clement 13.2,[3] the reference to the Parable of the Sower found in 1 Clement 24:5,[4] and the quotation of Isaiah 29:13 in 1 Clement 15:2, where Clement agrees with the form found in Matthew 15:8 and Mark 7:6 over LXX Isaiah.[5] Continue reading

SSP: Confessio 40 and Matthew 28

This post is part of an ongoing series on the Scriptures of Saint Patrick of Ireland.

Confessio 40 & Matthew 28:19-20  
Patrick O’Loughlin (161) ‘Go therefore,’ now, ‘and teach all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and behold, I am with you always even to the close of the age.’
  Bieler (80) & Conneely (43) Euntes ergo nunc docete omnes gentes baptizantes eas in nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti docentes eos observare omnia quaecumque mandavi vobis: et ecce ego vobiscum sum omnibus diebus usque ad consummationem saeculi.
Matthew 28:19-20    
  Vulgate euntes ergo docete omnes gentes baptizantes eos in nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti docentes eos servare omnia quaecumque mandavi vobis et ecce ego vobiscum sum omnibus diebus usque ad consummationem saeculi
  e (5th c. Italy)[1] Ite ergo docete omnes gentes baptizantes eos in nomine patris et fili et sps sancti docentes eos obserbare omnia quaecumque praecepi vobis et ecce ego vobiscum sum omnibus usque ad consummationem saeculi. Amen.
  a (4th c. Italy) Euntes nunc docete omnes gentes, baptizantes eos in nomine Patris, et Fili, et Spiritus Sancti docentes eos servare omnia quaecumque mandavi vobis. Et ecce ego vobiscum sum omnibus diebus usque ad consummationem saeculi. Amen.
  h (4th-5th c. Western Europe)[2] Euntes nunc docete omnes gentes baptizantes  eos in nomine patris et filii et spiritus  sancti docentes eos servare omnia quaecumque mandavi vobis.  Et ecce vobiscum sum omnibus diebus usque ad consummationem saeculi.

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SSP: Confessio 7 and Matthew 12

This post is part of an ongoing series on the Scriptures of Saint Patrick of Ireland.

Confessio 7 & Matthew 12:36
Patrick O’Loughlin (145) ‘I tell you, on the day of judgment men will render account for every careless word they utter’.
Bieler (61) & Conneely (30) Verbum otiosum quod locuti fuerint homines reddent pro eo rationem in die iudicii.
Matthew 12:36
Vulgate quoniam omne verbum otiosum quod locuti fuerint homines reddent rationem de eo in die iudicii
k (4th-5th c. Italy)[1] Quoniam omne verbum vacuum quod locuti fuerint homines reddent pro eo rationem in die iduicii
a (4th c. Italy)[2] Quonium omne verbum otiosum quod locuti fuerint  homines, reddent de eo rationem in die judicii
d (5th c. France)[3] Quoniam omne beruum vacum quod locuntur homines reddet pro eo rationem in de iducii

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