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§ II. Consequences to the Church of the Destruction of the Temple.
The great truths maintained by St. Paul received emphatic sanction from this terrible event. God had cast into the balance the weight of his judgments. The destruction of Jerusalem was to have yet a further effect—it was to enlarge the views of the Christians as to the future of the Church, and to give indefinite expansion to the horizon of prophecy. They had until now been living in daily expectation of the end of the world, and the immediate return of Christ. In the prophetic picture drawn by the Master they had failed to apprehend the true perspective. They had recognized no distinction between the prophecies relating to the Holy City and those having reference to the final judgments of God; they had not grasped the idea that the condemnation about to fall on Jerusalem was a symbol of the judgments kept in store for the world. This confusion, so natural in the first period of the apostolic age, was no longer possible after Judaism had lost its religious center. It became then distinctly evident that a long future of conflict was before the Church. We have a striking proof of this enlargement of the views of prophecy as resulting from the fall of Jerusalem. Hegesippus relates that the Emperor Domitian, on questioning some Christians in Palestine, who were connected with the Saviour by ties of kindred, as to the kingdom of Christ and his return, received this reply: "His kingdom is not an earthly kingdom or of this world, but a heavenly and angelic kingdom, which will come in the fullness of the ages, when he shall return to judge the quick and the dead."507507Οὐ κοσμικὴ μὲν οὐδ᾽ ἐπίγειος ἐπουράνιος δὲ καὶ ἀγγελικὴ τυγχάνει ἐπὶ συντελείᾳ τοῦ αἱῶνος γενησομένη. Routh, "Reliquiæ Sacræ," i, 219; Eusebius, "Hist. Eccles.," ii, 32. The second coming of Christ had then at this time ceased to be expected as immediate, and those whose hopes had been most set on its speedy realization had learned to defer indefinitely the appointed time.
This revelation, so clear and positive, of the prolongation of the period of struggling and suffering, combined with the destruction of the ancient form of worship, to which so many of the Christians still clung, tended to promote the more settled and permanent organization of the Church. In fact, from the year 70, there is a very marked advance toward a definite form of government and of worship. The Church now realizes its position as the true Israel of God, the religious society approved by him, which has taken the place of the theocracy; and it is thus led to organize institutions which shall permanently substitute those of the past. There was danger, however, lest in replacing these the Church should be led into imitating them. The necessity which was felt, after the destruction of the temple, of a fixed and clearly-defined organization, might lead to a resurrection of Judaism under a new form. The letter of Clement of Rome to the Corinthians gives sufficient evidence of the existence of such a tendency at the close of the first century. He says, "We ought to do all that the Lord has commanded us to do at the times appointed. He has commanded us to present offerings and to celebrate worship, not irregularly and irreverently, but at the times and seasons by him determined. He has revealed, by his most holy will; in what places and by what men the various acts of religious service can be acceptably performed. Special functions are ascribed to the high priest; a particular place is set apart for the priests, and the Levites have their distinct offices. Let each one of you then, my brethren, render honor to God, in his special order, with a good conscience, and without infringing the rule of his ministry. The sacrifices were not offered in all places, but at Jerusalem alone; and in Jerusalem, at the altars in the Temple. Take heed, my brethren, lest we who have been honored with a wider knowledge should bring upon ourselves severer chastisements by violating established rules."508508Clement of Rome, "Ad Corinth.," 4.
It would be absurd to infer from this passage that Clement, a disciple of St. Paul, holds the perpetuity of the Levitical worship, but we can clearly mark in it the tendency to transplant into the Church the precise organization of the old law, and to introduce the fixed order of Judaism. Evidently such notions can only have arisen after the destruction of the Temple. The Christians, accustomed to regard that as their religious center, were filled with a sort of alarm after its fall; they felt about for other props; they began to be afraid of the great freedom which, until then, had prevailed in the worship and government of the Church; and thus the event which was designed to set a seal on the spirituality of the new covenant helped, by a not unnatural perversion, to bring it back under the yoke of the old.
We cannot, however, admit, with an illustrious German divine, that in consequence of this great event a second Council was held at Jerusalem, at which the surviving Apostles met and authoritatively instituted the episcopate. A fact of such importance would not have escaped the ancient historians of the Church. The early Fathers would have made more than vague allusions to it. Besides, none of the passages adduced in support of this hypothesis are at all conclusive. Such an apostolical council appears to us inconceivable in the first century; it would suppose a wide modification of the very idea of the apostolate, and a radical revolution in then existing ecclesiastical institutions.509509The hypothesis to which we allude was brought forward by Rothe ("Anfange," p. 311,) and supported by Thiersch, ("Apost. Zeit.," p. 275.) Rothe takes his ground on the following passage: Μετὰ τὴν Ἰακώβου μαρτνρίαν καὶ τὴν αὐτίκα γενομενην ἁλωσιν τῆς Ἱερουσαλημ, λόγος κατέχει τῶν ἀποστόλων καὶ τῶν τοῦ Κυρὶου μαθητῶν τοὺς εἱαέτι τῷ βιῷ λειπυμενους ἐπί παῦτα πανταχόθεν συνελθεῖν. "After the martyrdom of James and the taking of Jerusalem, it is said that the Apostles of the Lord, and his disciples who were yet alive, assembled together." According to Eusebius, the object of this assembly was the choice of a successor to James. Rothe maintains that the opportunity thus offered was embraced for the institution of the episcopate. But, without dwelling on the hypothetical character given by Eusebius himself to this statement, it affords no support to Rothe's idea. In fact, according to Eusebius, who is only the echo of Hegesippus, the foundation of the episcopate is to be traced back, not to Simon, but to James himself, of whom he speaks positively as a bishop. He cannot, then, have intended to speak of the foundation of the episcopate after the death of James. The second passage brought forward by Rothe is taken from the fragment of Irenæus edited by Pfaff. It is as follows: Οἱ ταῖς δευτέραις τῶν ἀποστόλων διατάξεσι παρηκολουθηκότες ἴσασι τὸν Κύριον νέαν προσφορὰν ἐν τῇ καινῇ διαθήκῃ καθεστηκέναι κατὰ τὸν Μαλαχίαν τὸν προφήτην . "Those who follow the second injunctions of the Apostles know that the Lord appointed a new sacrifice in the new covenant, according to the Prophet Malachi." Rothe supposes these second injunctions to proceed from the second Council at Jerusalem. But there is no evidence that these second injunctions are of a different date from the first; there is nothing more implied than a simple classification of the injunctions of the Apostles. In any case, the passage gives no indication of an episcopate. The third passage is taken from Clement of Rome. "The Apostles," we read in his First Epistle to the Corinthians, xliv, "knowing from the Lord Jesus Christ that there would be disputes in the Church as to the name of bishop, and, having a perfect prevision of the fact, appointed elders, and subsequently gave directions that when these died other tried men should succeed them." καὶ μεταξύ ἐπινομήν δεδώκασιν ὅπως ἐὰν κοιμηθῶσιν διαδέξωνται ἕτεροι δεδοκιμασμένοι ἄνδρες τὴν λειτουργίαν αὔτων. Rothe lays stress on the word ἐπινομήν, which he translates testament, testamentary disposition, on the authority of a single passage in Hesychius, who assimilates ἐπίνομος to κληρονὸμος He thus translates the passage from Clement: "The Apostles made this testamentary disposition, that when they (the Apostles) should be dead, other tried men should succeed to their office." To this we reply, the κοιμηθῶσιν does not relate to apostles, but to elders. The dispute at Corinth related not to the apostolic office, but to the office of elders, and it arose on the occasion of the death of the first elders appointed in that Church. Still further, the root of the word ἐπινομή is νόμος, law. It is, therefore, much better translated, commandment, decision. We read in an old Latin translation, "Hanc formam tenentes." "Forma" is here the equivalent of decision or ordinance. It is not necessary to have recourse to the arbitrary correction of Bunsen, who substitutes ἐπιμονήν for ἐπινομήν, ("Ignatius und seine Zeit.," p. 98,) and who regards it as the consecration for life to the office of elder. We translate the passage thus: "The Apostles determined that when the first elders should be dead others should succeed them." (See Ritschl, "Altcath. Kirche," pp. 424-429.)
Another consequence of the fall of Jerusalem was the tracing of a broad line of demarkation between Judæo-Christianity and the Church.510510See, on this point, "Das apostolische und nachapostolische Zeitalter," by Lechler, of Stuttgart, pp. 436- 44; Ritschl, "Altcath.," 238-256. So long as the Temple was standing the Christians of Palestine might suppose that it was the will of God that they should continue to practice all the rites of Judaism, as decided by the Council at Jerusalem. This could no longer be the case when the Temple was overthrown. The enforced cessations of sacrifices is a momentous fact, which it has been vainly endeavored to explain away.511511Schwegler, work quoted, pp. 192-308. This event could not fail to produce a very deep impression on the more liberal section of the Church at Jerusalem, which still retained the tone of feeling imparted by James. This party recognized it as the decree of God, finally abrogating the old worship. Under the influence of Simon, the cousin of James, and a man probably of like spirit, these Jewish Christians were gradually brought into closer fellowship with those of Gentile origin. The hatred of the Jews, who were eager to fulminate excommunications against the Christians, and to put them under the ban of their synagogues so soon as these were reconstituted, contributed not a little to enlarge the spirit of the Christians of Palestine.512512Lechler, p. 440. In fact, a short time after the destruction of Jerusalem a new Sanhedrim was formed at Jabna, which endeavored to rally around it the remnants of the Jewish people. This Sanhedrim assumed the most hostile attitude toward the Christians, whom it called Mineans. The Rabbi Tarpho said, "The Gospels deserve to be burned; paganism is less dangerous than the Christian sects, for the former through ignorance does not receive the truths of Judaism, while the Christians know and yet reject. Salvation may be more readily found in the idol temples than in the assemblies of the Christians." The Jews were forbidden to eat with the Christians, and a form of excommunication against them was introduced by the Rabbi Gamaliel into the daily prayers. Its import was, that there was no hope for apostates. No gulf could be deeper than that by which the Church was thus divided from the synagogue.
In the commencement of the following century we find a flourishing Church, without any Judaistic tendencies, at Ælia-Capitolina, a Roman colony founded on the ruins of Jerusalem, to which, by a decree of the Emperor, no Jews were admissible. It is certain that a large number of Christians of Jewish origin were among its inhabitants, and that these associated without distinction with Gentiles by birth. There could be no stronger proof of the decay of Judæo-Christianity.513513Eusebius's Ecclesiastical History, iv, 6; Ritschl, work quoted, page 247. These same Christians were, as we shall presently show, sacrificed in large numbers by Bar Cocheba in the violent persecution which he instigated against the Church. We freely admit, however, that all were not equally enlightened. The existence in the second century of a Nazarite sect distinct from the Ebonites, and treated with tolerance by Justin Martyr, proves that a section of the Jews in Palestine, without breaking with the Church, still retained an exaggerated attachment to the ancient forms.514514Justin, "Dial. cum Tryph.," c. xlvii. They could not be charged with any doctrinal error; they did not give formal expression to their views; but they refused to cast off the Mosaic yoke, even after God had himself broken it. The Church at Jerusalem contained within its bosom violent and fanatical men, who even before the siege of the Holy City had begun to fall away from it. These, far from being enlightened by that event, became yet more extravagant in their Judaizing notions. Previously, it might have been supposed that they adhered to the old worship rather from position than conviction; but from the year 70 they substituted for such a modified and transitional form of Judaism, one more decided and emphatic. Thus they became further and further alienated from apostolic doctrine, and in combination with the Jewish sects, especially with the Essenes, they constituted a distinct and avowed heresy. To this period, then, we, with Irenæus, trace the obscure commencement of Ebionitism, although the name is of later date.515515Γέγονε ἡ ἀρχὴ τούτου μετὰ Ἱεροσολύμων ἅλωσιν. Irenæus, xxx, 2.
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