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Hegesippus (chronicler)

Hegesippus (chronicler)

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Saint Hegesippus (c. 110 — c. April 7, 180 AD), was a Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

 chronicler of the early Church who may have been a Jewish convert and certainly wrote against heresies of the Gnostics
Gnosticism
Gnosticism is a scholarly term for a set of religious beliefs and spiritual practices common to early Christianity, Hellenistic Judaism, Greco-Roman mystery religions, Zoroastrianism , and Neoplatonism.A common characteristic of some of these groups was the teaching that the realisation of Gnosis...

 and of Marcion. The date of Hegesippus is insecurely fixed by the statement of Eusebius
Eusebius of Caesarea
Eusebius of Caesarea also called Eusebius Pamphili, was a Roman historian, exegete and Christian polemicist. He became the Bishop of Caesarea in Palestine about the year 314. Together with Pamphilus, he was a scholar of the Biblical canon...

 that the death and apotheosis of Antinous
Antinous
Antinoüs or Antinoös was a beautiful Bithynian youth and the favourite of the Roman emperor Hadrian...

 (130) occurred in Hegesippus' lifetime, and that he came to Rome under Pope St. Anicetus
Pope Anicetus
Pope Saint Anicetus was Pope of the Catholic Church from about 150 to about 167 . His name is Greek for unconquered...

 and wrote in the time of Pope St. Eleuterus
Pope Eleuterus
Pope Saint Eleuterus, or Eleutherius, was Bishop of Rome from about 174 to 189 . He was born in Nicopolis in Epirus. His name is Greek for free....

 (Bishop of Rome, ca 174-189).

Hegesippus' works are now entirely lost, save eight passages concerning Church history quoted by Eusebius, who tells us that he wrote Hypomnemata (Ὑπομνήματα; "Memoirs" or "Memoranda") in five books, in the simplest style concerning the tradition of the Apostolic preaching. Through Eusebius Hegesippus was also known to Jerome
Jerome
Saint Jerome was a Roman Christian priest, confessor, theologian and historian, and who became a Doctor of the Church. He was the son of Eusebius, of the city of Stridon, which was on the border of Dalmatia and Pannonia...

, who is responsible for the idea that Hegesippus "wrote a history of all ecclesiastical events from the passion of our Lord down to his own period... in five volumes", which has established the Hypomnemata as a Church history. St. Hegesippus appealed principally to tradition as embodied in the teaching which had been handed down through the succession of bishops, thus providing for Eusebius information about the earliest bishops that otherwise would have been lost.

Eusebius says that St. Hegesippus was a convert from Judaism, learned in the Semitic
Semitic
In linguistics and ethnology, Semitic was first used to refer to a language family of largely Middle Eastern origin, now called the Semitic languages...

 languages and conversant with the oral tradition and customs of the Jews, for he quoted from the Hebrew
Hebrew language
Hebrew is a Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Culturally, is it considered by Jews and other religious groups as the language of the Jewish people, though other Jewish languages had originated among diaspora Jews, and the Hebrew language is also used by non-Jewish groups, such...

, was acquainted with the Gospel of the Hebrews
Gospel of the Hebrews
The Gospel of the Hebrews , commonly shortened from the Gospel according to the Hebrews or simply called the Hebrew Gospel, is a hypothesised lost gospel preserved in fragments within the writings of the Church Fathers....

 and with a Syriac Gospel, and he also cited unwritten traditions of the Jews. Eusebius' own shaky command of Hebrew and Aramaic, and his lack of personal knowledge of customs of the Jews, were insufficiently founded to judge Hegesippus as a dependable source. He seems to have lived in some part of the East, for, in the time of Pope Anicetus
Pope Anicetus
Pope Saint Anicetus was Pope of the Catholic Church from about 150 to about 167 . His name is Greek for unconquered...

 (A.D. 155-166) he travelled through Corinth
Corinth
Corinth is a city and former municipality in Corinthia, Peloponnese, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Corinth, of which it is the seat and a municipal unit...

 to reach Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

, collecting on the spot the teachings of the various churches which he visited, and ascertaining their uniformity with Rome, according to this excerpt:
"And the Church of the Corinthians remained in the true word until Primus was bishop in Corinth; I made their acquaintance in my journey to Rome, and remained with the Corinthians many days, in which we were refreshed with the true word. And when I was in Rome, I made a succession up to Pope Anicetus, whose deacon was Eleuterus
Pope Eleuterus
Pope Saint Eleuterus, or Eleutherius, was Bishop of Rome from about 174 to 189 . He was born in Nicopolis in Epirus. His name is Greek for free....

. And in each succession and in each city all is according to the ordinances of the law and the Prophets and the Lord"


It is probable that Eusebius borrowed his list of the early bishops of Jerusalem from Hegesippus. With great ingenuity J.B. Lightfoot
Joseph Barber Lightfoot
Joseph Barber Lightfoot was an English theologian and Bishop of Durham, usually known as J.B. Lightfoot....

, in Clement of Rome (London, 1890), found traces of a list of popes in Epiphanius of Cyprus, (Haer., xxvii, 6) that may also derive from Hegesippus, where that fourth-century writer carelessly says: "Marcellina came to us lately and destroyed many, in the days of Anicetus, Bishop of Rome", and then refers to "the above catalogue", though he has given none. He is clearly quoting a writer who was at Rome in the time of Anicetus and made a list of popes A list which has some curious agreements with Epiphanius in that it extends only to Anicetus, is found in the poem of Pseudo-Tertullian
Pseudo-Tertullian
Pseudo-Tertullian is the scholarly name for the unknown author of Adversus Omnes Haereses, an appendix to the work De praescriptionem haereticorum of Tertullian...

 against Marcion; apparently Epiphanius has mistaken Marcion for "Marcellina". The same list is at the base of the earlier part of the Liberian Catalogue
Liberian Catalogue
In compiling the history of the Early Christian Church, the Liberian Catalogue , which was part of the illuminated manuscript known as the Chronography of 354, is an essential document, for it consists of a list of the popes, designated bishops of Rome, ending with Pope Liberius , hence its name...

, doubtless taken from Hippolytus
Hippolytus (writer)
Hippolytus of Rome was the most important 3rd-century theologian in the Christian Church in Rome, where he was probably born. Photios I of Constantinople describes him in his Bibliotheca Hippolytus of Rome (170 – 235) was the most important 3rd-century theologian in the Christian Church in Rome,...

. Correspondences among the lists of St. Irenaeus
Irenaeus
Saint Irenaeus , was Bishop of Lugdunum in Gaul, then a part of the Roman Empire . He was an early church father and apologist, and his writings were formative in the early development of Christian theology...

, Africanus
Sextus Julius Africanus
Sextus Julius Africanus was a Christian traveller and historian of the late 2nd and early 3rd century AD. He is important chiefly because of his influence on Eusebius, on all the later writers of Church history among the Fathers, and on the whole Greek school of chroniclers.His name indicates that...

, and Eusebius cannot be assumed to have come from the lost list of Hegesippus, as only Eusebius mentions his name.

Eusebius quotes from Hegesippus fifth and last book a long and perhaps legendary account of the death of James the Just
James the Just
James , first Bishop of Jerusalem, who died in 62 AD, was an important figure in Early Christianity...

, "the brother of the Lord", given the obscure Greek epithet Oblias, supposed to be a Semitic name in Greek translation but of which little sense has been made He also transcribes from Hegesippus the story of the election of his successor Simeon
Simeon of Jerusalem
Saint Simeon of Jerusalem, son of Clopas, was a Jewish Christian leader and according to most Christian traditions the second Bishop of Jerusalem .-Life:Eusebius of Caesarea gives the list of these bishops...

, and the summoning of the descendants of St. Jude to Rome by the Emperor Domitian
Domitian
Domitian was Roman Emperor from 81 to 96. Domitian was the third and last emperor of the Flavian dynasty.Domitian's youth and early career were largely spent in the shadow of his brother Titus, who gained military renown during the First Jewish-Roman War...

. A list of heresies against which Hegesippus wrote is also cited. Dr. Lawlor has argued (Hermathena, XI, 26, 1900, p. 10) that all these passages cited by Eusebius were connected in the original, and were in the fifth book of Hegesippus. He has also argued (Journal of Theological Studies, April 1907, VIII, 436) the likelihood that Eusebius got from Hegesippus the statement that St. John
John the Evangelist
Saint John the Evangelist is the conventional name for the author of the Gospel of John...

 was exiled to Patmos
Patmos
Patmos is a small Greek island in the Aegean Sea. One of the northernmost islands of the Dodecanese complex, it has a population of 2,984 and an area of . The highest point is Profitis Ilias, 269 meters above sea level. The Municipality of Patmos, which includes the offshore islands of Arkoi ,...

 by Domitian. Hegesippus mentioned the letter of Pope St. Clement I
Pope Clement I
Starting in the 3rd and 4th century, tradition has identified him as the Clement that Paul mentioned in Philippians as a fellow laborer in Christ.While in the mid-19th century it was customary to identify him as a freedman of Titus Flavius Clemens, who was consul with his cousin, the Emperor...

 to the Corinthians, apparently in connection with the persecution of Domitian. It is very likely that the dating of heretics according to papal reigns in Irenaeus and Epiphanius—e.g., that Marcion of Sinope
Marcion of Sinope
Marcion of Sinope was a bishop in early Christianity. His theology, which rejected the deity described in the Jewish Scriptures as inferior or subjugated to the God proclaimed in the Christian gospel, was denounced by the Church Fathers and he was excommunicated...

's disciple Cerdon and Valentinus came to Rome under Anicetus—was derived from Hegesippus, and the same may be true of the assertion that Hermas, author of The Shepherd of Hermas
The Shepherd of Hermas
The Shepherd of Hermas is a Christian literary work of the 1st or 2nd century, considered a valuable book by many Christians, and considered canonical scripture by some of the early Church fathers such as Irenaeus. The Shepherd had great authority in the 2nd and 3rd centuries...

, was the brother of Pope Pius I
Pope Pius I
Pope Saint Pius I was Bishop of Rome, according to the Annuario Pontificio, from 142 or 146 to 157 or 161, respectively. Others suggest that his pontificate was perhaps from 140 to 154.-Early life:...

 (as the Liberian Catalogue
Liberian Catalogue
In compiling the history of the Early Christian Church, the Liberian Catalogue , which was part of the illuminated manuscript known as the Chronography of 354, is an essential document, for it consists of a list of the popes, designated bishops of Rome, ending with Pope Liberius , hence its name...

, the poem against Marcion, and the Muratorian fragment
Muratorian fragment
The Muratorian fragment is a copy of perhaps the oldest known list of the books of the New Testament. The fragment, consisting of 85 lines, is a 7th-century Latin manuscript bound in an eighth or 7th century codex that came from the library of Columban's monastery at Bobbio; it contains internal...

 all state).

A history of Hegesippus (historia Hegesippi) appears in an inventory of books in the Abbey of Corbie; the inventory is of uncertain date, often considered twelfth century. However, it is probable that this refers to an anonymous fourth century Latin adaptation of Josephus' historical works, which was also written in five books, and which was misattributed at an early date to Hegesippus. Hegesippus' own work, after all, was never translated into Latin, and the Abbey of Corbie's catalog refers to a Latin rather than Greek history. (Today its author is more commonly called Pseudo-Hegesippus
Pseudo-Hegesippus
Pseudo-Hegesippus is a conventional title for a fourth-century adaptor of the Jewish War of Flavius Josephus.-The text:Although the author is sometimes termed a "translator", he never makes a claim to be translating either literally or freely. Rather, he considered himself an historian who used...

, to distinguish him from Hegesippus). Zahn (Zeitschrift für Kirchengeschichte, II [1877-8], 288, and in Theologisches Litteraturblatt [1893], 495) has shown that the work of Hegesippus may still have been extant in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in three Eastern libraries.

"We must lament the loss of other portions of the Memoirs which were known to exist in the seventeenth century."

The American theologian Robert M. Price
Robert M. Price
Robert McNair Price is an American theologian and writer. He teaches philosophy and religion at the Johnnie Colemon Theological Seminary, is professor of biblical criticism at the Center for Inquiry Institute, and the author of a number of books on theology and the historicity of Jesus, including...

 has recently questioned the historical authenticity of Hegesippus, suspecting that 'He-gesippus' may be a garbled version of 'Josephus', made into a "catch-all pedigree for whatever tradition or belief one wished to retroject into an earlier 'apostolic' period."

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