Church Historian Eusebius on Paul's Martyrdom

The first Church historian Eusebius writes of Paul’s final years.

Written ca 324.

{In Book III, Chapter 1, the famous church historian quotes Origen on the fact that Paul suffered martyrdom under Nero.  Technical footnotes have been omitted for this short passage.}

{Earlier in Book II, Chapter XXII, Eusebius argues that Paul was released from his first captivity in Rome, went on additional missionary journeys, wrote the so-called Pastoral Epistles, was accompanied by Luke who wrote the Acts during this time, and returned to Rome for martyrdom (along with Peter) in the year 67. The technical footnotes, which are longer than the text, have been included for their critical analysis of dates and sources.  The footnotes are the original 19th century translator’s and remain numbered as in the original.}

{For example, from footnote 474:  Eusebius is the first writer to record the release of Paul from a first, and his martyrdom during a second Roman imprisonment. He introduces the statement with the formula logoV Zcei , which indicates probably that he has only an oral tradition as his authority, and his efforts to establish the fact by exegetical arguments show how weak the tradition was. ¼ }

{In Book II, chapter XXV, Eusebius describes the martyrdom of Peter and Paul in Rome. “This tradition, that Paul suffered martyrdom in Rome, is early and universal, and disputed by no counter-tradition and may be accepted as the one certain historical fact known about Paul outside of the New Testament accounts.” A.C.McG.  Details are in footnote 541.}

from

The Church History of Eusebius

Translated with prolegomena and notes by

The Rev. Arthur Cushman McGiffert, Ph.d.

Professor of Church History in Lane Theological Seminary, Cincinnati, 1890.

transcribed onto the web by the Christian Classics Ethereal Library

Calvin College

3201 Burton St. SE

Grand Rapids, MI 49546 USA

http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf201.iii.viii.i.html#iii.viii.i-Page_133

Book III, Chapter I.—The Parts of the World in which the Apostles preached Christ.

{Eusebius is the only source for this fragment from Origen.}

{Translator’s footnotes removed.}

Peter appears to have preached in Pontus, Galatia, Bithynia, Cappadocia, and Asia to the Jews of the dispersion. And at last, having come to Rome, he was crucified head-downwards; for he had requested that he might suffer in this way. What do we need to say concerning Paul, who preached the Gospel of Christ from Jerusalem to Illyricum, and afterwards suffered martyrdom in Rome under Nero?  These facts are related by Origen in the third volume of his Commentary on Genesis.


{Eusebius, in an earlier book, gives more details of Paul’s martyrdom.}

http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf201.iii.vii.xxiii.html

Chapter XXII -- Paul having been sent bound from Judea to Rome, made his

Defense, and was acquitted of every Charge.

1. Festus [469] was sent by Nero to be Felix’s successor. Under him Paul, having made his defense, was sent bound to Rome. [470] Aristarchus was with him, whom he also somewhere in his epistles quite naturally calls his fellow-prisoner.[527] And Luke, who wrote the Acts of the Apostles, [2] brought his history to a close at this point, after stating that Paul spent two whole years at Rome as a prisoner at large, and preached the word of God without restraint. [529]

2. Thus after he had made his defense it is said that the apostle was sent again upon the ministry of preaching,[4] and that upon coming to the same city a second time he suffered martyrdom.[5] In this imprisonment he wrote his second epistle to Timothy,[6] in which he mentions his first defense and his impending death.

3. But hear his testimony on these matters: “At my first answer,” he says, “no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge. Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.”[7]

4. He plainly indicates in these words that on the former occasion, in order that the preaching might be fulfilled by him, he was rescued from the mouth of the lion, referring, in this expression, to Nero, as is probable on account of the latter’s cruelty. He did not therefore afterward add the similar statement, “He will rescue me from the mouth of the lion”; for he saw in the spirit that his end would not be long delayed.

5. Wherefore he adds to the words, “And he delivered me from the mouth of the lion,” this sentence: “The Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom,”[8] indicating his speedy martyrdom; which he also foretells still more clearly in the same epistle, when he writes, “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.”[9]

6. In his second epistle to Timothy, moreover, he indicates that Luke was with him when he wrote,[10] but at his first defense not even he.[11].  Whence it is probable that Luke wrote the Acts of the Apostles at that time, continuing his history down to the period when he was with Paul.[12]

7. But these things have been adduced by us to show that Paul’s martyrdom did not take place at the time of that Roman sojourn which Luke records.

8. It is probable indeed that as Nero was more disposed to mildness in the beginning, Paul’s defense of his doctrine was more easily received; but that when he had advanced to the commission of lawless deeds of daring, he made the apostles as well as others the subjects of his attacks.[13]

Now skipping

Chapter XXIII -- The Martyrdom of James, who was called the Brother of the Lord.

and

Chapter XXIV -- —Annianus the First Bishop of the Church of Alexandria after Mark.

we come to:

Chapter XXV.—The Persecution under Nero in which Paul and Peter were honored at Rome with Martyrdom in Behalf of Religion.

1. When the government of Nero was now firmly established, he began to plunge into unholy pursuits, and armed himself even against the religion of the God of the universe.

2. To describe the greatness of his depravity does not lie within the plan of the present work. As there are many indeed that have recorded his history in most accurate narratives,536 every one may at his pleasure learn from them the coarseness of the man’s extraordinary madness, under the influence of which, after he had accomplished the destruction of so many myriads without any reason, he ran into such blood-guiltiness that he did not spare even his nearest relatives and dearest friends, but destroyed his mother and his brothers and his wife,537 with very many others of his own family as he would private and public enemies, with various kinds of deaths.

3. But with all these things this particular in the catalogue of his crimes was still wanting, that he was the first of the emperors who showed himself an enemy of the divine religion.

4. The Roman Tertullian is likewise a witness of this. He writes as follows:538 “Examine your records. There you will find that Nero was the first that persecuted this doctrine,539 particularly then when after subduing all the east, he exercised his cruelty against all at Rome.[14] We glory in having such a man the leader in our punishment. For whoever knows him can understand that nothing was condemned by Nero unless it was something of great excellence.”

5. Thus publicly announcing himself as the first among God’s chief enemies, he was led on to the slaughter of the apostles. It is, therefore, recorded that Paul was beheaded in Rome itself.[15] And that Peter likewise was crucified under Nero.[16] This account of Peter and Paul is substantiated by the fact that their names are preserved in the cemeteries of that place even to the present day.

6. It is confirmed likewise by Caius,[17] a member of the Church,[18] who arose[19] under Zephyrinus,[20] bishop of Rome. He, in a published disputation with Proclus,[21] the leader of the Phrygian heresy,[22] speaks as follows concerning the places where the sacred corpses of the aforesaid apostles are laid:

7. “But[23] I can show the trophies of the apostles. For if you will go to the Vatican[24] or to the Ostian way,[25] you will find the trophies {by this is understood a shrine, or cella memoriae} of those who laid the foundations of this church.”[26]

8. And that they both suffered martyrdom at the same time is stated by Dionysius, bishop of Corinth,[27] in his epistle to the Romans,[28] in the following words: “You have thus by such an admonition bound together the planting of Peter and of Paul at Rome and Corinth. For both of them planted and likewise taught us in our Corinth.[29] And they taught together in like manner in Italy, and suffered martyrdom at the same time.”[30]  I have quoted these things in order that the truth of the history might be still more confirmed



Footnotes:

469  The exact year of the accession of Festus is not known, but it is known that his death occurred before the summer of 62 a.d. ; for at that time his successor, Albinus, was already procurator, as we can see from Josephus, B. J. VI. 5. 3. But from the events recorded by Josephus as happening during his term of office, we know he must have been procurator at least a year; his accession, therefore, took place certainly as early as 61 a.d. , and probably at least a year earlier, i.e. in 60 a.d. , the date fixed by Wieseler. The widest possible margin for his accession is from 59–61. Upon this whole question, see Wieseler, p. 66 sqq. Festus died while in office. He seems to have been a just and capable governor,—in this quite a contrast to his predecessor.

470 Acts xxv. sqq. The determination of the year in which Paul was sent as a prisoner to Rome depends in part upon the determination of the year of Festus’ accession. He was in Rome (which he reached in the spring) at least two years before the Neronic persecution (June, 64 a.d. ), therefore as early as 62 a.d. He was sent from Cæsarea the previous autumn, therefore as early as the autumn of 61. If Festus became procurator in 61, this must have been the date. But if, as is probable, Festus became procurator in 60, then Paul was sent to Rome in the autumn of the same year, and reached Rome in the spring of 61. This is now the commonly accepted date; but the year 62 cannot be shut out (cf. Wieseler, ibid. ). Wieseler shows conclusively that Festus cannot have become procurator before 60 a.d. , and hence Paul cannot have been taken to Rome before the fall of that year.

[1] Col. iv. 10.

[2] See below, Bk. III. chap. 4.

[3] See Acts xxviii. 30.

[4] Eusebius is the first writer to record the release of Paul from a first, and his martyrdom during a second Roman imprisonment. He introduces the statement with the formula logoV Zcei , which indicates probably that he has only an oral tradition as his authority, and his efforts to establish the fact by exegetical arguments show how weak the tradition was. Many maintain that Eusebius follows no tradition here, but records simply his own conclusion formed from a study of the Pastoral Epistles, which apparently necessitate a second imprisonment. But were this the case, he would hardly have used the formula logoV Zcei .  The report may have arisen solely upon exegetical grounds, but it can hardly have originated with Eusebius himself. In accordance with this tradition, Eusebius, in his Chron., gives the date of Paul’s death as 67 a.d. Jerome ( de vir. ill. 5) and other later writers follow Eusebius (though Jerome gives the date as 68 instead of 67), and the tradition soon became firmly established (see below, chap. 25, note 5). Scholars are greatly divided as to the fact of a second imprisonment. Nearly all that defend the genuineness of the Pastoral Epistles assume a second imprisonment, though some (e.g. Wieseler, Ebrard, Reuss and others) defend the epistles while assuming only one imprisonment; but this is very difficult. On the other hand, most opponents of the epistles (e.g. the Tübingen critics and the majority of the new critical school) deny the second imprisonment. As to the place where Paul spent the interval—supposing him to have been released—there is again a difference of opinion. The Pastoral Epistles, if assumed to be genuine, seem to necessitate another visit to the Orient. But for such a visit there is no ancient tradition, although Paul himself, in the Epistle to the Philippians, expresses his expectation of making such a visit. On the other hand, there is an old tradition that he visited Spain (which must of course have been during this interval, as he did not reach it before the first imprisonment). The Muratorian Fragment (from the end of the second century) records this tradition in a way to imply that it was universally known. Clement of Rome ( Epistle to the Corinthians, c. 5.) is also claimed as a witness for such a visit, but the interpretation of his words is doubtful, so that little weight can be laid upon his statement. In later times the tradition of this visit to Spain dropped out of the Church. The strongest argument against the visit is the absence of any trace of it in Spain itself. If any church there could have claimed the great apostle to the Gentiles as its founder, it seems that it must have asserted its claim and the tradition have been preserved at least in that church. This appears to the writer a fatal argument against a journey to Spain. On the other hand, the absence of all tradition of another journey to the Orient does not militate against such a visit, for tradition at any place might easily preserve the fact of a visit of the apostle, without preserving an accurate account of the number of his visits if more than one were made. Of the defenders of the Pastoral Epistles, that accept a second imprisonment, some assume simply a journey to the Orient, others assume also the journey to Spain. Between the spring of 63 a.d. , the time when he was probably released, if released, and the date of his death (at the earliest the summer of 64), there is time enough, but barely so, for both journeys. If the date of Paul’s death be put later with Eusebius and Jerome (as many modern critics put it), the time is of course quite sufficient. Compare the various Lives of Paul, Commentaries, etc., and especially, among recent works, Schaff’s Church Hist. I. p. 231 sqq.; Weiss’ Einleitung in das N. T. p. 283 sqq.; Holtzmann’s Einleitung, p. 295 sqq.; and Weizsäcker’s Apostolisches Zeitalter, p. 453 sqq.

[5] See below, chap. 25, note 6.

[6] Eusebius looked upon the Pastoral Epistles as undoubtedly genuine, and placed them among the Homologumena, or undisputed writings (compare Bk. III. chaps. 3 and 25). The external testimony for them is very strong, but their genuineness has, during the present century, been quite widely denied upon internal grounds. The advanced critical scholars of Germany treat their non-Pauline authorship as completely established, and many otherwise conservative scholars follow their lead. It is impossible here to give the various arguments for or against their genuineness; we may refer the reader particularly to Holtzmann’s Die Pastoralbriefe, kritisch und exegetisch behandelt (1880), and to his Einleitung (1886), for the most complete presentation of the case against the genuineness; and to Weiss’ Einleitung in das N. T. (1886), p. 286 sqq., and to his Commentary on the Pastoral Epistles, in the fifth edition of the Meyer Series, for a defense of their genuineness, and also to Woodruff’s article in the Andover Review, October, 1886, for a brief and somewhat popular discussion of the subject. The second epistle must have been written latest of all Paul’s epistles, just before his death,—at the termination of his second captivity, or of his first, if his second be denied.

[7] 2 Tim. iv. 16, 17.

[8] 2 Tim. iv. 18.

[9] Ibid. iv. 6.

[10] See 2 Tim. iv. 11.

[11] See 2 Tim. iv. 16

[12] This is a very commonly accepted opinion among conservative commentators, who thus explain the lack of mention of the persecution of Nero and of the death of Paul. On the other hand, some who accept Luke’s authorship of the Acts, put the composition into the latter part of the century and explain the omission of the persecution and the death of Paul from the object of the work, e.g. Weiss, who dates the Gospel of Luke between 70 and 80, and thus brings the Acts down to a still later date (see his Einleitung, p. 585 sqq.). It is now becoming quite generally admitted that Luke’s Gospel was written after the destruction of Jerusalem, and if this be so, the Acts must have been written still later. There is in fact no reason for supposing the book to have been written at the point of time at which its account of Paul ceases. The design of the book (its text is found in the eighth verse of the first chapter) was to give an account of the progress of the Church from Jerusalem to Rome, not to write the life of Paul. The record of Paul’s death at the close of the book would have been quite out of harmony with this design, and would have formed a decided anti-climax, as the author was wise enough to understand. He was writing, not a life of Paul, nor of any apostle or group of apostles, but a history of the planting of the Church of Christ. The advanced critics, who deny that the Acts were written by a pupil of Paul, of course put its composition much later,—some into the time of Domitian, most into the second century. But even such critics admit the genuineness of certain portions of the book (the celebrated “We” passages), and the old Tübingen theory of intentional misrepresentation on the part of the author is finding less favor even among the most radical critics.

[13] Whether Eusebius’ conclusion be correct or not, it is a fact that Nero became much more cruel and tyrannical in the latter part of his reign. The famous “first five years,” however exaggerated the reports about them, must at least have been of a very different character from the remainder of his reign. But those five years of clemency and justice were past before Paul reached Rome.

536 Tacitus ( Ann. XIII.–XVI.), Suetonius ( Nero ), and Dion Cassius (LXI.–LXIII.).

537 Nero’s mother, Agrippina the younger, daughter of Germanicus and of Agrippina the elder, was assassinated at Nero’s command in 60 a.d. in her villa on Lake Lucrine, after an unsuccessful attempt to drown her in a boat so constructed as to break to pieces while she was sailing in it on the lake. His younger brother Britannicus was poisoned by his order at a banquet in 55 a.d. His first wife Octavia was divorced in order that he might marry Poppæa, the wife of his friend Otho, and was afterward put to death. Poppæa herself died from the effects of a kick given her by Nero while she was with child.

538 Tertullian, Apol. V.

539 We learn from Tacitus, Ann. XV. 39, that Nero was suspected to be the author of the great Roman conflagration, which took place in 64 a.d. (Pliny, H. N. XVII. I, Suetonius, 38, and Dion Cassius, LXII. 18, state directly that he was the author of it), and that to avert this suspicion from himself he accused the Christians of the deed, and the terrible Neronian persecution which Tacitus describes so fully was the result. Gibbon, and in recent times especially Schiller ( Geschichte der Römischen Kaiserzeit unter der Regierung des Nero, p. 584 sqq.), have maintained that Tacitus was mistaken in calling this a persecution of Christians, which was rather a persecution of the Jews as a whole. But we have no reason for impeaching Tacitus’ accuracy in this case, especially since we remember that the Jews enjoyed favor with Nero through his wife Poppæa. What is very significant, Josephus is entirely silent in regard to a persecution of his countrymen under Nero. We may assume as probable (with Ewald and Renan) that it was through the suggestion of the Jews that Nero’s attention was drawn to the Christians, and he was led to throw the guilt upon them, as a people whose habits would best give countenance to such a suspicion, and most easily excite the rage of the populace against them. This was not a persecution of the Christians in the strict sense, that is, it was not aimed against their religion as such; and yet it assumed such proportions and was attended with such horrors that it always lived in the memory of the Church as the first and one of the most awful of a long line of persecutions instituted against them by imperial Rome, and it revealed to them the essential conflict which existed between Rome as it then was and Christianity.

[14]  Footnote omitted as its exclusive concern is the translation of the phrase “illic reperietis primum Neronem in hanc sectam cum maxime Romæ orientem Cæsariano gladio ferocisse.”

[15] This tradition, that Paul suffered martyrdom in Rome, is early and universal, and disputed by no counter-tradition and may be accepted as the one certain historical fact known about Paul outside of the New Testament accounts. Clement ( Ad. Cor. chap. 5) is the first to mention the death of Paul, and seems to imply, though he does not directly state, that his death took place in Rome during the persecution of Nero. Caius (quoted below, §7), a writer of the first quarter of the third century, is another witness to his death in Rome, as is also Dionysius of Corinth (quoted below, §8) of the second century. Origen (quoted by Euseb. III. 1) states that he was martyred in Rome under Nero. Tertullian (at the end of the second century), in his De præscriptione Hær. chap. 36, is still more distinct, recording that Paul was beheaded in Rome. Eusebius and Jerome accept this tradition unhesitatingly, and we may do likewise. As a Roman citizen, we should expect him to meet death by the sword.

[16] The tradition that Peter suffered martyrdom in Rome is as old and as universal as that in regard to Paul, but owing to a great amount of falsehood which became mixed with the original tradition by the end of the second century the whole has been rejected as untrue by some modern critics, who go so far as to deny that Peter was ever at Rome. (See especially Lipsius’ Die Quellen der römischen Petrus-Sage, Kiel, 1872; a summary of his view is given by Jackson in the Presbyterian Quarterly and Princeton Review, 1876, p. 265 sq. In Lipsius’ latest work upon this subject, Die Acta Pauli und Petri, 1887, he makes important concessions.) The tradition is, however, too strong to be set aside, and there is absolutely no trace of any conflicting tradition. We may therefore assume it as overwhelmingly probable that Peter was in Rome and suffered martyrdom there. His martyrdom is plainly referred to in John xxi. 10, though the place of it is not given. The first extra-biblical witness to it is Clement of Rome. He also leaves the place of the martyrdom unspecified ( Ad Cor. 5), but he evidently assumes the place as well known, and indeed it is impossible that the early Church could have known of the death of Peter and Paul without knowing where they died, and there is in neither case a single opposing tradition. Ignatius ( Ad Rom. chap. 4) connects Paul and Peter in an especial way with the Roman Church, which seems plainly to imply that Peter had been in Rome. Phlegon (supposed to be the Emperor Hadrian writing under the name of a favorite slave) is said by Origen ( Contra Celsum, II. 14) to have confused Jesus and Peter in his Chronicles. This is very significant as implying that Peter must have been well known in Rome. Dionysius, quoted below, distinctly states that Peter labored in Rome, and Caius is a witness for it. So Irenæus, Clement, Tertullian, and later Fathers without a dissenting voice. The first to mention Peter’s death by crucifixion (unless John xxi. 18 be supposed to imply it) is Tertullian ( De Præscrip. Hær. chap. 36), but he mentions it as a fact already known, and tradition since his time is so unanimous in regard to it that we may consider it in the highest degree probable. On the tradition reported by Origen, that Peter was crucified head downward, see below, Bk. III. chap. 1, where Origen is quoted by Eusebius.

[17] The history of Caius {200-220} is veiled in obscurity. All that we know of him is that he was a very learned ecclesiastical writer, who at the beginning of the third century held a disputation with Proclus in Rome (cf. Bk. VI. chap. 20, below). The accounts of him given by Jerome, Theodoret, and Nicephorus are drawn from Eusebius and furnish us no new data. Photius, however ( Bibl. XLVIII.), reports that Caius was said to have been a presbyter of the Roman Church during the episcopates of Victor and Zephyrinus, and to have been elected “Bishop of the Gentiles,” and hence he is commonly spoken of as a presbyter of the Roman Church, though the tradition rests certainly upon a very slender foundation, as Photius lived some six hundred years after Caius, and is the first to mention the fact. {The rest of this very lengthy footnote has been omitted as it wanders too far afield.}

[18] e kklhsiastoV anhr

[19] gegonwV . Crusè translates “born”; but Eusebius cannot have meant that, for in Bk. VI. chap. 20 he tells us that Caius’ disputation with Proclus was held during the episcopate of Zephyrinus.  He used gegonwV therefore, as to indicate that at that time he came into public notice, as we use the word “arose.”

[20] On Zephyrinus, see below, Bk. V. chap. 28, §7.

[21] This Proclus probably introduced Montanism into Rome at the beginning of the third century. According to Pseudo-Tertullian ( Adv. omnes Hær. chap. 7) he was a leader of one division of the Montanists, the other division being composed of followers of Æschines. He is probably to be identified with the Proculus noster, classed by Tertullian, in Adv. Val. chap. 5, with Justin Martyr, Miltiades, and Irenæus as a successful opponent of heresy.

[22] The sect of the Montanists. Called the “Phrygian heresy,” from the fact that it took its rise in Phrygia. Upon Montanism, see below, Bk. IV. chap. 27, and especially Bk. V. chap. 16 sqq.

[23] The de here makes it probable that Caius, in reply to certain claims of Proclus, was asserting over against him the ability of the Roman church to exhibit the true trophies of the greatest of all the apostles. And what these claims of Proclus were can perhaps be gathered from his words, quoted by Eusebius in Bk. III. chap. 31, §4, in which Philip and his daughters are said to have been buried in Hierapolis. That these two sentences were closely connected in the original is quite possible.

[24] According to an ancient tradition, Peter was crucified upon the hill of Janiculum, near the Vatican, where the Church of San Pietro in Montorio now stands, and the hole in which his cross stood is still {1890} shown to the trustful visitor. A more probable tradition makes the scene of execution the Vatican hill, where Nero’s circus was, and where the persecution took place. Baronius makes the whole ridge on the right bank of the Tiber one hill, and thus reconciles the two traditions. In the fourth century the remains of Peter were transferred from the Catacombs of San Sebastiano (where they are said to have been interred in 258 a.d. ) to the Basilica of St. Peter, which occupied the sight of the present basilica on the Vatican.

[25] Paul was beheaded, according to tradition, on the Ostian way, at the spot now occupied by the Abbey of the Three Fountains. The fountains, which are said to have sprung up at the spots where Paul’s head struck the ground three times after the decapitation, are still shown, as also the pillar to which he is supposed to have been bound! {1890} In the fourth century, at the same time that Peter’s remains were transferred to the Vatican, Paul’s remains are said to have been buried in the Basilica of St. Paul, which occupied the site now marked by the church of San Paolo fuori le mura. There is nothing improbable in the traditions as to the spot where Paul and Peter met their death. They are as old as the second century; and while they cannot be accepted as indisputably true (since there is always a tendency to fix the deathplace of a great man even if it is not known), yet on the other hand if Peter and Paul were martyred in Rome, it is hardly possible that the place of their death and burial could have been forgotten by the Roman church itself within a century and a half.

[26] Neither Paul nor Peter founded the Roman church in the strict sense, for there was a congregation of believers there even before Paul came to Rome, as his Epistle to the Romans shows, and Peter cannot have reached there until some time after Paul. It was, however, a very early fiction that Paul and Peter together founded the church in that city.

[27]  On Dionysius of Corinth, see below, Bk. IV. chap. 23.

[28] Another quotation from this epistle is given in Bk. IV. chap. 23. The fragments are discussed by Routh, Rel. Sac. I. 179 sq.

[29] Whatever may be the truth of Dionysius’ report as to Peter’s martyrdom at Rome, he is almost certainly in error in speaking as he does of Peter’s work in Corinth. It is difficult, to be sure, to dispose of so direct and early a tradition, but it is still more difficult to accept it. The statement that Paul and Peter together planted the Corinthian church is certainly an error, as we know that it was Paul’s own church, founded by him alone. The so-called Cephas party, mentioned in 1 Cor. i., is perhaps easiest explained by the previous presence and activity of Peter in Corinth, but this is by no means necessary, and the absence of any reference to the fact in the two epistles of Paul renders it almost absolutely impossible. It is barely possible, though by no means probable, that Peter visited Corinth on his way to Rome (assuming the Roman journey) and that thus, although the church had already been founded many years, he became connected in tradition with its early days, and finally with its origination. But it is more probable that the tradition is wholly in error and arose, as Neander suggests, partly from the mention of Peter in 1 Cor. i., partly from the natural desire to ascribe the origin of this great apostolic church to the two leading apostles, to whom in like manner the founding of the Roman church was ascribed. It is significant that this tradition is recorded only by a Corinthian, who of course had every inducement to accept such a report, and to repeat it in comparing his own church with the central church of Christendom. We find no mention of the tradition in later writers, so far as I am aware.

[30]  kata ton auton kairon .  The kata allows some margin in time and does not necessarily imply the same day. Dionysius is the first one to connect the deaths of Peter and Paul chronologically, but later it became quite the custom. One tradition put their deaths on the same day, one year apart (Augustine and Prudentius, e.g., are said to support this tradition). Jerome ( de vir. ill. 1) is the first to state explicitly that they suffered on the same day. Eusebius in his Chron. (Armen.) puts their martyrdom in 67, Jerome in 68. The Roman Catholic Church celebrates the death of Peter on the 29th and that of Paul on the 30th of June, but has no fixed tradition as to the year of the death of either of them.


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