Dictionary of Christian Biography and Literature to the End of the Sixth Century/Linus (1)
Linus (1), accounted the first bp. of Rome after the apostles, and identified by Irenaeus (iii. 2) with the Linus from whom St. Paul sent greetings to Timothy (II. Tim. iv. 21). For the question of the order of succession of the alleged earliest bishops of Rome, and of the positions held by the persons named, see Clemens Romanus. As Linus there is no difference of opinion, since in all the lists he comes first. Eusebius (H. E. iii. 13) assigns 12 years to his episcopate; the Liberian Catalogue 12 years, 4 months, and 12 days, from a.d. 55 to 67; the Felician Catalogue 11 years, 3 months, and 12 days. These cannot be accepted as historical, nor can the statements of the last-named catalogue, that he died a martyr, and was buried on the Vatican beside the body of St. Peter on Sept. 24. [J.B—Y.]
Under the name of Linus are extant two tracts purporting to contain the account of the martyrdom of SS. Peter and of Paul. These were first printed in 1517 by Faber Stapulensis as an appendix to his Comm. on Saint Paul's Epistles. These Acts of Linus have so many features common with the Leucian Acts [ Leucius ] that the question arises whether we have not in Linus either a translation of a portion of the collection described by Photius or at least a work for which that collection supplied materials. Linus does not profess to give a complete account of the acts of the two apostles. He begins by briefly referring to (as if already known to his readers) the contest of St. Peter and Simon Magus, his imprisonments and other sufferings and labours, and then proceeds at once to the closing scenes. The stories of the martyrdom of the two apostles are quite distinct, there being no mention of Paul in the first nor of Peter in the second. The apostles′ deaths are immediately brought about, not by Nero himself, but by his prefect Agrippa, a name, we may well believe, transferred by a chronological blunder from the reign of Augustus. This name, as well as some others mentioned by pseudo-Linus, occur also in the orthodox Acts of Peter and Paul published by Tischendorf and by Thilo. The alleged cause of Agrippa′s animosity exhibits strongly the Encratite character common to Linus and the Leucian Acts. St. Peter, we are told, by his preaching of chastity had caused a number of matrons to leave the marriage bed of their husbands, who were thus infuriated against the apostle.
The intention to destroy Peter is revealed by Marcellus and other disciples, who pressingly entreat him to save himself by withdrawing from Rome. Among those who thus urge him are his jailors, Martinianus and Processus, who had already received baptism from him, and who represent that the plan to destroy Peter is entirely the prefect′s own and has no sanction from the emperor, who seems to have forgotten all about the apostle. Then follows the well-known story of Domino quo vadis. St. Peter yields to his friends′ entreaties, and consents to leave Rome, but at the gate he meets our Lord coming in, Who, on being asked whither He is going, replies, "To Rome, in order to be crucified again." The apostle understands that in his person his Master is to be crucified, and returns to suffer. Linus tells of the arrest of Peter, and lays the scene of the crucifixion at the Naumachia near Nero′s obelisk on the mountain. St. Peter requests to be crucified head downwards, desiring out of humility not to suffer in the same way as his Master. A further reason is given, that in this way his disciples will be better able to hear his words spoken on the cross, and a mystical explanation is given of the inverted position which bears a very Gnostic character. An alleged saying of our Lord is quoted which strongly resembles a passage from the Gospel according to the Egyptians, cited by Julius Cassianus (Clem. Al. Strom. iii. 13, p. 553 see also Clem. Rom. ii. 12), "Unless ye make the right as the left, the left as the right, the top as the bottom, and the front as the backward, ye shall not know the kingdom of God." Linus relates how during Peter′s crucifixion God, at the request of the apostle, opened the eyes of his sorrowing disciples, and so turned their grief into joy. For they saw the apostle standing upright at the top of his cross, crowned by angels with roses and lilies, and receiving from our Lord a book, out of which he reads to his disciples. This story has a good deal of affinity with that told by Leucius of a vision of our Lord during His crucifixion, seen by St. John on the Mount of Olives. The story of Peter′s crucifixion head downwards was in the Acts known to Origen, who refers to it in his Comm. on Gen. (Eus. H. E. iii. 1). Linus relates that Marcellus took Peter′s body from the cross, bathed it in milk and wine, and embalmed it with precious spices; but the same night, as he was watching the grave, the apostle appeared to him, and bid him let the dead bury their dead and himself preach the kingdom of God.
The second book, which treats of St. Paul, relates the success of his preaching at Rome. The emperor′s teacher, his hearer and close friend, when he cannot converse with him, corresponds with him by letter. The emperor′s attention is called to the matter by a miracle worked by Paul on his favourite cupbearer, Patroclus, of whom a story is told exactly reproducing that told of Eutychus in Acts. Nero orders St. Paul′s execution, Paul turns his face to the east, offers a prayer in Hebrew, blesses the brethren, binds his eyes with a veil lent by a Christian matron, Plautilla, and presents his neck to the executioner. From his trunk there flows a stream of milk—a circumstance referred to by Ambrose and by Macarius in a work not later than c. 400. A dazzling light makes the soldiers unable to find the veil; returning to the gate they find that Plautilla has already received it back from Paul, who has visited her accompanied by a band of white-robed angels. The same evening, the doors being shut, Paul appears to the emperor, foretells his impending doom, and terrifies him into ordering the release of the prisoners he had apprehended. The story ends with an account of the baptism of the three soldiers who had had charge of St. Paul, and been converted by him. After his death he directs them to go to his grave, where they find SS. Luke and Titus praying and receive baptism at their hands.
Lipsius infers, from the coincidences of the tolerably numerous N.T. citations in Linus with the Vulg., that our present Latin Linus must be later than Jerome; but he does not seem to have appreciated the conservative character of Jerome′s revision or to have consulted the older versions. We have found no coincidence with the Vulg. which is not equally a coincidence with an older version; and in one case, "relinque mortuos sepelire mortuos suos," the text agrees with the quotations of Ambrose, Jerome′s translation being "dimitte." We conjecture the compiler to have been a Manichean, but he is quite orthodox in his views as to the work of creation, the point on which Gnostic speculation was most apt to go astray.