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Chapter XXXII.—Symeon, Bishop of Jerusalem, suffers Martyrdom.
1. It is reported that after the age of Nero and Domitian, under the emperor whose times we are now recording,870870 Trajan, who reigned from 98 to 117 a.d. a persecution was stirred up against us in certain cities in consequence of a popular uprising.871871 Upon the state of the Christians under Trajan, see the next chapter, with the notes. In this persecution we have understood that Symeon, the son of Clopas, who, as we have shown, was the second bishop of the church of Jerusalem,872872 See chap. 11. suffered martyrdom.
2. Hegesippus, whose words we have already quoted in various places,873873 Quoted in Bk. II. chap. 23, and in Bk. III. chap. 20, and mentioned in Bk. III. chap. 11. Upon his life and writings, see Bk. IV. chap. 8, note 1. is a witness to this fact also. Speaking of certain heretics874874 In the passage quoted in Bk. IV. chap. 22, §4, Hegesippus speaks of various heretics, and it looks as if the passage quoted there directly preceded the present one in the work of Hegesippus. he adds that Symeon was accused by them at this time; and since it was clear that he was a Christian, he was tortured in various ways for many days, and astonished even the judge himself and his attendants in the highest degree, and finally he suffered a death similar to that of our Lord.875875 That is, by crucifixion, as stated in §6.
3. But there is nothing like
hearing the historian himself, who writes as follows: “Certain of
these heretics brought accusation against Symeon, the son of Clopas, on
the ground that he was a descendant of David876876 It is noticeable that Symeon was not sought out by the imperial
authorities, but was accused to them as a descendant of David and as a
Christian. The former accusation shows with what suspicion all members
of the Jewish royal family were still viewed, as possible instigators
of a revolution (cf. chap. 20, note 2); the latter shows that in the
eyes of the State Christianity was in itself a crime (see the next
chapter, note 6). In the next paragraph it is stated that search was
made by the officials for members of the Jewish royal family. This was
quite natural, after the attention of the government had been
officially drawn to the family by the arrest of Symeon.
and a Christian; and thus he suffered martyrdom, at the age of one hundred
and twenty years,877877 The date of the martyrdom of Symeon is quite uncertain. It has
been commonly ascribed (together with the martyrdom of Ignatius) to the
year 106 or 107, upon the authority of Eusebius’ Chron.,
which is supposed to connect these events with the ninth or tenth year
of Trajan’s reign. But an examination of the passage in the
Chron., where Eusebius groups together these two events and the
persecutions in Bithynia, shows that he did not pretend to know the
exact date of any of them, and simply put them together as three
similar events known to have occurred during the reign of Trajan (cf.
Lightfoot’s Ignatius, II. p. 447 sqq.). The year of
Atticus’ proconsulship we unfortunately do not know, although
Wieseler, in his Christen-Verfolgungen der Cæsaren, p. 126,
cites Waddington as his authority for the statement that Herodes
Atticus was proconsul of Palestine from 105 to 107; but all that
Waddington says (Fastes des prov. Asiat., p. 720) is, that since
the proconsul for the years 105 to 107 is not known, and Eusebius puts
the death of Symeon in the ninth or tenth year of Trajan, we may assume
that this was the date of Atticus’ proconsulship. This, of
course, furnishes no support for the common opinion. Lightfoot, on
account of the fact that Symeon was the son of Clopas, wishes to put
the martyrdom earlier in Trajan’s reign, and it is probable that
it occurred earlier rather than later; more cannot be said. The great
age of Symeon and his martyrdom under Trajan are too well authenticated
to admit of doubt; at the same time, the figure 120 may well be an
exaggeration, as Lightfoot thinks. Renan (Les Evangiles, p. 466)
considers it very improbable that Symeon could have had so long a life
and episcopate, and therefore invents a second Symeon, a great-grandson
of Clopas, as fourth bishop of Jerusalem, and makes him the martyr
mentioned here. But there is nothing improbable in the survival of a
contemporary of Jesus to the time of Trajan, and there is no warrant
for rejecting the tradition, which is unanimous in calling Symeon the
son of Clopas, and also in emphasizing his great age. while Trajan
was emperor and Atticus governor.”878878 ἐπὶ
᾽Αττικοῦ. The nouns being without the article, the phrase is to be
translated, “while Trajan was emperor, and Atticus
governor.” In §6, below, where the article is used, we must
translate, “before Atticus the governor” (see
Lightfoot’s Ignatius, I. p. 59).
The word ὑπατικός is an adjective signifying “consular, pertaining to a consul.” It “came to be used in the second century especially of provincial governors who had held the consulship, and at a later date of such governors even though they might not have been consuls” (Lightfoot, p. 59, who refers to Marquardt, Römische Staatsverwaltung, I. 409).
4. And the same writer says that his accusers also, when search was made for the descendants of David, were arrested as belonging to that family.879879 This is a peculiar statement. Members of the house of David would hardly have ventured to accuse Symeon on the ground that he belonged to that house. The statement is, however, quite indefinite. We are not told what happened to these accusers, nor indeed that they really were of David’s line, although the ὡσ€ν with which Eusebius introduces the charge does not imply any doubt in his own mind, as Lightfoot quite rightly remarks. It is possible that some who were of the line of David may have accused Symeon, not of being a member of that family, but only of being a Christian, and that the report of the occurrence may have become afterward confused. And it might be reasonably assumed that Symeon was one of those that saw and heard the Lord,880880 This is certainly a reasonable supposition, and the unanimous election of Symeon as successor of James at a time when there must have been many living who had seen the Lord, confirms the conclusion. judging from the length of his life, and from the fact that the Gospel makes mention of Mary, the wife of Clopas,881881 Mary, the wife of Clopas, is mentioned in John xix. 25. who was the father of Symeon, as has been already shown.882882 See above, chap. 11.
5. The same historian says that there were also others, descended from one of the so-called brothers of the Saviour, whose name was Judas, who, after they had borne testimony before Domitian, as has been already recorded,883883 See above, chap. 20. in behalf of faith in Christ, lived until the same reign.
6. He writes as follows: “They came, therefore, and took the lead of every church884884 See p. 389, note. as witnesses885885 μ€ρτυρες. The word is evidently used here in its earlier sense of “witnesses,” referring to those who testified to Christ even if they did not seal their testimony with death. This was the original use of the word, and continued very common during the first two centuries, after which it became the technical term for persons actually martyred and was confined to them, while ὁμολογητής, “confessor,” gradually came into use as the technical term for those who had borne testimony in the midst of persecution, but had not suffered death. As early as the first century (cf. Acts xxii. 20 and Rev. ii. 13) μ€ρτυς was used of martyrs, but not as distinguishing them from other witnesses to the truth. See the remarks of Lightfoot, in his edition of Clement of Rome, p. 46. and as relatives of the Lord. And profound peace being established in every church, they remained until the reign of the Emperor Trajan,886886 This part of the quotation has already been given in Eusebius’ own words in chap. 20, §8. See note 5 on that chapter. and until the above-mentioned Symeon, son of Clopas, an uncle of the Lord, was informed against by the heretics, and was himself in like manner accused for the same cause887887 ἐπὶ τῷ αὐτῷ λόγῳ, that is, was accused for the same reason that the grandsons of Judas (whom Hegesippus had mentioned just before) were; namely, because he belonged to the line of David. See chap. 20; but compare also the remarks made in note 10, above. before the governor Atticus.888888 ἐπὶ ᾽Αττικοῦ τοῦ ὑπατικοῦ. See above, note 9. And after being tortured for many days he suffered martyrdom, and all, including even the proconsul, marveled that, at the age of one hundred and twenty years, he could endure so much. And orders were given that he should be crucified.”
7. In addition to these things the same man, while recounting the events of that period, records that the Church up to that time had remained a pure and uncorrupted virgin, since, if there were any that attempted to corrupt the sound norm of the preaching of salvation, they lay until then concealed in obscure darkness.
8. But when the sacred college of apostles had suffered death in various forms, and the generation of those that had been deemed worthy to hear the inspired wisdom with their own ears had passed away, then the league of godless error took its rise as a result of the folly of heretical teachers,889889 On the heretics mentioned by Hegesippus, see Bk. IV. chap. 22. who, because none of the apostles was still living, attempted henceforth, with a bold face, to proclaim, in opposition to the preaching of the truth, the ‘knowledge which is falsely so-called.’890890 τὴν ψευδόνυμον γνῶσιν; 1 Tim. vi. 20. A few mss., followed by Stephanus, Valesius (in his text), Closs, and Crusè, add the words (in substance): “Such is the statement of Hegesippus. But let us proceed with the course of our history.” The majority of the mss., however, endorsed by Valesius in his notes, and followed by Burton, Heinichen, and most of the editors, omit the words, which are clearly an interpolation.
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