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ANF08. The Twelve Patriarchs, Excerpts and Epistles, The Clementia, Apocrypha, Decretals, Memoirs of Edessa and Syriac Documents, Remains of the First
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Chapter IV.—An Adjuration Concerning the Receivers of the Book.

1.  Therefore James, having read the epistle, sent for the elders; and having read it to them, said:  “Our Peter has strictly and becomingly charged us concerning the establishing of the truth, that we should not communicate the books of his preachings, which have been sent to us, to any one at random, but to one who is good and religious, and who wishes to teach, and who is circumcised, and faithful.  And these are not all to be committed to him at once; that, if he be found injudicious in the first, the others may not be entrusted to him.  Wherefore let him be proved not less than six years.  And then according to the initiation of Moses, he that is to deliver the books should bring him to a river or a fountain, which is living water, where the regeneration of the righteous takes place, and should make him, not swear—for that is not lawful—but to stand by the water and adjure, as we ourselves, when we were re-generated,892892    [The form of adjuration has some points of resemblance with the baptismal forms given by Hippolytus, as those of the Elkesaites.  See Introductory Notice to Recognitions, and comp. Recognitions, i. 45–48.—R.] were made to do for the sake of not sinning.

2.  “And let him say:  ‘I take to witness heaven, earth, water, in which all things are comprehended, and in addition to all these, that air also which pervades all things, and without which I cannot breathe, that I shall always be obedient to him who gives me the books of the preachings; and those same books which he may give me, I shall not communicate to any one in any way, either by writing them, or giving them in writing, or giving them to a writer, either myself or by another, or through any other initiation, or trick, or method, or by keeping them carelessly, or placing them before any one, or granting him permission to see them, or in any way or manner whatsoever communicating them to another; unless I shall ascertain one to be worthy, as I myself have been judged, or even more so, and that after a probation of not less than six years; but to one who is religious and good, chosen to teach, as I have received them, so I will commit them, doing these things also according to the will of my bishop.

3.  “‘But otherwise, though he were my son or my brother, or my friend, or otherwise in any way pertaining to me by kindred, if he be unworthy, that I will not vouchsafe the favour to him, as is not meet; and I shall neither be terrified by plot nor mollified by gifts.  But if even it should ever seem to me that the books of the preachings given to me are not true, I shall not so communicate them, but shall give them back.  And when I go abroad, I shall carry them with me, whatever of them I happen to possess.  But if I be not minded to carry them about with me, I shall not suffer them to be in my house, but shall deposit them with my bishop, having the same faith, and setting out from the same persons as myself.893893    Unless the reading be corrupt here, I suppose the reference must be to episcopal succession.  But if it befall me to be sick, and in expectation of death, and if I be childless, I shall act in the same manner.  But if I die having a son who is not worthy, or not yet capable, I shall act in the same manner.  For I shall deposit them with my bishop, in order that if my son, when he grows up, be worthy of the trust, he may give them to him as his father’s bequest, according to the terms of this engagement.

4.  “‘And that I shall thus do, I again call to witness heaven, earth, water, in which all things are enveloped, and in addition to all these, the all-pervading air, without which I cannot breathe, that I shall always be obedient to him who giveth me these books of the preachings, and shall observe in all things as I have engaged, or even something more.  To me, therefore, keeping this covenant, there shall be a part with the holy ones; but to me doing anything contrary to what I have covenanted, may the universe be hostile to me, and the all-pervading ether, and the God who is over all, to whom none is superior, than whom none is greater.  But if even I should come to the acknowledgment of another God, I now swear by him also, be he or be he not, that I shall not do otherwise.  And in addition to all these things, if I shall lie, I shall be accursed living and dying, and shall be punished with everlasting punishment.

“And after this, let him partake of bread and salt with him who commits them to him.”


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