Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 1.djvu/680

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APOCRYPHA
APOCRYPHA
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letters are accompanied by an introduction which probably is an excerpt from the same source. Ac- cording "to this, Abgar V, Toparch or King of Edessa, sufTering from an incurable disease, and having heard the fame of Christ's miracles sends a courier to Je- rusalem, bearing a letter to Jesus, in which he de- clared Him to be a god, or the son of a god, and in- vites Him to Edessa, justifying the request partly by his desire to be cured, partly by his wish to offer to Jesus an asylum against the malignant Jews. Our Lord replied as follows: "Blessed art thou because thou hast believed in Me without seeing Me. For it is written that those who have seen Me, will not believe .Ie; and that those who have not seen Me will believe and love Me. But as to thy prayer that I come to thee, it is necessary that I fulfil here all that for which I have been sent, and that after I have fulfilled it, that I be taken up to Him who hath sent Me. But after my taking up I shall send thee one of -My disciples, who will heal thy pains, and keep life for tiiee and thine." Accordingly, after the As- cension, "Judas Thomas", an Apostle, despatches to Ede.s.sa Thaddeus, one of the seventy Disciples, who cures tlie King of his disease, and preaches Christ to the assembled people. This, adds Eusebius, happened in the year 340, i. e. of the Seleucid era; corresponding to A. D. 28-29. The pleasing story is repeated with variations in later sources. The "Teaching of Addai", a Syrian apocryphon (q. v. infra}, reproduces the correspondence with additions. The authenticity of the alleged letter of Christ has always been strongly suspected when not absolutely denied. As early as the si.xth century the Gelasian Decretum brands this correspondence as spurious. Its legendary environment and the fact that the Church at large did not hand down the pretended epistle from Our Lord as a sacred document is conclusive against it. As for the letter of Abgar, its genuine- ness was formerly favoured by many skilled in this literature, but since the discovery of the "Teaching of Addai", published in 1876, the presumption against the authentic character of Abgar's epistle, owing to the close resemblance of a portion to passages in the Gospels, has become an established certainty. Lipsius, a high authority, is of the opinion that the Abgar correspondence goes back to the reign of the first Christian ruler of Edessa, Abgar IX (179-216), and that it was elicited by a desire to force a link uniting that epoch with the time of Christ. (See Abgak.) See the histories of Bardenhewer, Harnack, Preus- -CHEN,. and Zahn, referred to in the bibUographies above. For the Report of Pilate to the Emperor, Harnack, Ge- tchichle der allchristlichen Lileratur (Leipzig, 1897), II, I, ^04 sqq., inserts the Greek and Latin text. The ancient texts of these apocrypha are edited in Tischendorf's Evangelia Apocrypha (Leipzig, 1853, 1876); Translations of the .4 no pAora, the Report of Piiate, of The Giving Up, of the Epistola ad Tiherium, The Letter of Pontius Pilate, are supphed in Walker and Ante-Nicene Fathers, editions of the apocrypha previously cited. The Jlerod-Pilate (Correspondence in English: Apocry- phal Books of the New Testament, anon. (Philadelphia, 1890, !90l). — Special for the Abgar correspondence: Ante-Nicene Fathers (New York, 1906; English), VIII; Lipsins, Die Edcssenische Abgarsage kritisch unUrsucht (Brunswick. 1883); WniGHT. Abgar, in Diet, of Chris. Bioq; Vigourocx, Ab- gar. in Diet, de la Bible. — Letter of Lentulus. A brief letter professing to be from Lentulus, or Publius Lentulus, aa m some MSS., "President of the People of Jerusalem", a<ldresse<l to "the Roman Senate and People", describes 1 ""i ^'■"personal appearance. It is evidently spurious, both the office and name of the president of Jerusalem being Krossly unhistorical. No ancient writer alludes to this pro- duction, which IS found only in Latin MSS. It has been con- jecturefl that it may have been composed in order to au- thenticate a pretended portrait of Jesus, during the Midiile Age«. An English version is given in Cowperh Apocrm>hal eth'^ IsotV Documents Relating to Christ (New York, (3) ApociiypHAL Acts op the Apostles. — The mo- tive which first prompted the fabrication of spurious Act* of the Apostle.s was, in general, to give Apos- tolic support to heretical systems, especially those of the many sects which are comprised imder the term Gnosticism. The darkness in which the New Tes- tament leaves the missionary careers, and the ends of the greater number of the Apostles, and the meagre details handed down by ecclesiastical tradition, left an inviting field for the exercise of inventive imagi- nations, and offered an apt means for the insidious propagation of heresy. The Jewish-Christian Church, which early developed un-Catholic tendencies in the form of Ebionitism, seems first to have produced apocryphal histories of the Apostles, though of these we have very few remains outside the material in the voluminous Pseudo-Clement. The Cinostic Acts of Peter, Andrew, John, Thomas, and perhaps Mat- thew, date from the early portion of the third cen- tury or perhaps a little earlier. They abound in extra'agant and highly coloured marvels, and were interspersed by long pretended discourses of the Apostles which served as vehicles for the Gnostic predications. Though the pastors of the Church and the learned repudiated these as patently heretical WTitings, they appealed to the fancy and satisfied the curiosity of the common people. Not only were they utilized by Manicha;ans in the East and Pris- cillianists in the West, but they found favour with many unenlightened Catholics. Since it was impos- sible to suppress their circulation entirely, they were rendered comparatively harmless by orthodox editing which expunged the palpable errors, especially in the discourses, leaving the miracle element to stand in its riotous exuberance. Hence most of the Gnostic Acts have come down to us with more or less of a Catholic purification, which, liowever, was in many cases so superficial as to leave unmistakable traces of their heterodo.x origin. The originally Gnostic apocrjiphal Acts were gathered into collections which bore the name of the irepiodoi (Circuits) or irpdftis (Acts) of the Apostles, and to which was attached the name of a Leueius Charinus, who may have formed the compilation. The Gnostic Acts were of various authorship. Another collection was formed in the Prankish Church in the sixth century, prob- ably by a monk. In this the Catholic Acts have been preserved; it is by no means uniform in its various manuscript representatives. By a misunderstanding, the authorship of the whole, under the title " Historia Certaminis Apostolorum", was ascribed to an Ab- dias, said to have been the first Bishop of Babylon and a disciple of the Apostles. The nucleus of this collection was formed by the Latin Passiones. or Martyrdoms, of those Apostles who had been neg- lected by the Gnostic Acts, viz., the two Jameses, Philip (Matthew?), Bartholomew, Simon, and Jude. The literature grew by accretions from heretical sources and eventually took in all the Apostles, in- cluding St. Paul. The motive of these non-heretical apocrypha was primarily to gratify the pious curios- ity of the faithful regarding the Apostolic founders of the Church; sometimes local interests instigated their composition. After the model of the Gnostic Acts, which were of Oriental derivation, they abound in prodigies, and like those again, they take as their starting-point the traditional dispersion of the Twelve from Jerusalem. Regarding the historical value of tliese apocryplial narratives, it requires the most careful criticism to extricate from the mass of fable and legend any grains of historical truth. Even respecting the fields of the -Vpostolic missions, they are self-contradictory or confused. In general their details are scientifically worthless, unless confirmed by independent authorities, whicli rarely happens. Much of their apocryphal matter was taken up by the offices of the Apostles in the Latin breviaries and lectionaries, composed in the seventh and eighth centuries at an extremely imcritioal period. Lii'sius in Dirt, of ChriM. Biog.; Salmon, art. I^iu-ius, in same work; Historical Introduction to the .'rw TeslamenI (4th ed., 1889): Dcchesne, Us anciens recucils de Itgende*