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639

APOSTOLIC


639


APOSTOLIC


Corinth during the second century and later (Eusc- bius, Hist. Ecd., Ill, xvi; IV, xxiii); the letter of Hiir- nabas was simihirly honoured at Alexandria; Ilornias was popular throughout Christendom, but particu- larly in tlie West. Clement of Alexandria (jvioted the Didache as "Scripture". Some of the Apos- tolic Fathers are found in the oldest manuscri|its of the New Testament at the end of the canonical writings: Clement was first made known thro\igh the "Codex Alexandrinus"; similarly, Hennas and Pseudo-Barnabas are appended to the canonical books in the "Codex Sinaiticus ". Standing between the New Testament era and the literary efilorescence of the late second century, these writers represent the original elements of Christian tradition. They make no pretension to treat of Christian doctrine and practice in a complete and scholarly manner and cannot, therefore, be expected to answer all the problems concerning Christian origins. Their si- lence on any point does not imply their ignorance of it, much less its denial; nor do their assertions tell all that might be known. The dogmatic value of their teaching is, however, of the highest order, considering the high antiiiuity of the documents and the competence of the authors to transmit the purest Apostolic doctrine. This fact did not receive its due appreciation even during the period of medi- eval theological activity. The increa.sed enthusiasm for positive theology which marked the .seventeenth century centred attention on the Apostolic Fathers; since then they have been the eagerly-(|uestioned witnesses to the beliefs and practice of the Church during the first half of the second centurj'. Their teaching is based on the Scriptures, i. e. the Old Testament, and on the words of Jesus Christ and His .\postles. The authority of the latter was de- cisive. Though the New Testament canon was not yet, to judge from these writings, definitively fixed, it is significant that with the exception of the Third Epistle of St. John and possibly tliat of St. Paul to Philemon, every book of the New Testament is quoted or alluded to more or lass clearly by one or another of the Apostolic Fathers, while the citations from the "apocrypha" are extremely rare. Of equal authority with the written word is that of oral tra- dition (Eusebius, Hist. EccL, III, xxxix; I Clem., vii), to which must be traced certain citations of the "Sayings" of Our Lord and the Apostles not found in the Scriptures.

Meagre as they necessarily are in their testimony, the .â– Vpostolic Fathers bear witness to the faith of Christians in the chief mysteries of the Divine I'nity and Trinity. The Trinitarian formula occurs fre- quently, if the Divinity of the Holy Ghost is but once obscurely alluded to in Hermas. it must be remembered that the Church was as yet undisturbed by anti-Trinitarian heresies. The dominant error of the period was Docetism, and its refutation furnislies these writers with an occasion to deal at greater length with the Person of Jesus Christ. He is the Redeemer of whom men stood in need. Igna- tius unhesitatingly calls Him God (Trail., vii; Eph., i, and passim). The soteriology of the lOoislIc to the Hebrews forms the basis of their teaching. Jesus Christ is our high-priest (I Clem., xxxvi-lxiv) in whose suffering and death is our redemption (Ignat., Eph., i, Magnes., ix; Barnab., v; Diog., ix); whose blood is our ransom (I Clem., xii-xxi). The fruits of Redemption, while not scientifically treated, are in a general way the destruction of death or of .sin, the gift to man of immortal life, and the knowledge of God (Barnab., iv-v, vii.xiv; Did., xvi; I Clem., xxiv- xxv; Hernias, Simil., y, 6). Justification is received by faith and by works as well; and so clearly is tlie efficacy of good works insisted upon that it is. futile to represent the .\postolic Fathers as failing to com- prehend the pertinent teaching of St. Paul. The


points of view of both St. Paul and St. James are cited and considered complementary (I Clem., xxxi, xxxiii,xx.xv; Ignat. to Polyc, vi). Good works are insisted on by Hermas (Vi.s., iii, 1 Simil., v, 3), and Barnabas proclaims (c. xi.x) their nece.ssity for salva- tion. The Church, the "Catholic" Church, as Ignatius for the first time calls it (Smyrn., viii), takes the place of the chosen people; is the mysti<-al body of Christ, the faithful Ijeing the members thereof, united by onene.ss of faith and hope, and by a charity which prompts to mutual assistance. This unity is secured by the hierarchical organization of the ministry and the due submission of inferiors to au- thority. On this point the teaching of the .Apos- tolic Fathers seems to stand for a marked develop- ment in advance of the practice of the .Apostolic period. But it is to be noted that the familiar tone in which episcopal authority is treated prechules the possibility of its being a novelty. The Didache may yd deal with "prophets". .Apostles", and itinerant missionaries (x-xi, xiii-xiv), but this is not a stage in development. It is anomalous, out- side the current of development. Clement and Igna- tius present the hierarchy, organized and complete, with its orders of bisho[xs, priests, and deacons, ministers of the Eucharistic liturgy and administra- tors of temporalities. Clement's Epistle is the philosophy of "Apostolicity" and its corollary, episcopal succession. Ignatius gives in abundance practical illustrations of what Clement sets forth in principle. For Ignatius the bishop is the centre of unity (Eph., iv), the authority whom all must obey as they would God, in whose place the bishop rules (Ignat. to Polyc, vi; Magnes., yi, xiii; Smyrn., viii, xi; Trail., xii); for unity with and submi.ssion to the bishop is the only security of fuith. Supreme in the Cliurch is he who holds the scat of St. Peter at Rome. The intervention of Clement in the alTairs of Corinth and the language of Ignatius in speaking of the Church of Rome in the exordium of his ICpistle to the Romans mu.st be understood in the light of Christ's charge to St. Peter. One rounds out the other. The deepest reverence for the memory of St. Peter is visible in the writings of Clement and Ignatius. They couple his name with that of St. Paul, and this effectually disproves the antagonism between these two Apostles which the Tubingen theory postulated in tracing the pretended dc\(lop- nient of a united church from the discordant I'ctrine and Pauline factions. .Among the sacraments alluded to is Baptism, to which Ignatius refers (Polyc. ii; Smyrn., viii), and of which Hennas speaks as the necessary way of entrance to the Church and to salvation (Vis., iii, 3, 5; Simil., ix, Iti), the way from death to life (Simil., viii, 6), while the Didache deals with it liturgically (vii). The Eucharist is men- tioned in the Didache (xiv) and by Ignatius, who uses the term to signify the "flesh of Our Saviour Jesus Christ" (Smyrn., vii; Eph., xx; Philad., iv). Penance is the theme of Hermas, and is urged as a necessarj' and a possible recourse for him who sins once after baptism (\'is., iii, 7; Simil., viii, 6, 8, 9, 11). The Didache refers to a confession of sins (iv, xiv) as does Barnabas (xixV .An exposition of the dog- matic teaching of individual Fathers will be found under their respective names. The Apostolic Fathers, as a group, are found in no one manuscript. The literary history of each will be found in con- nexion with the individual studies. The first edition was that of Cotelerius, above referred to (Paris, 1672). It contained Barnabas. Clement, Hennas, Ignatius, and Polycarp. .A reprint (.Antwerp, U>9S- 17(X); Amsterdam, 1721), by Jean Leclerc (Clericus), contained much additional matter. The latest editions are those of the .Anglican Bishop, J. B. I.ightfoot. "The .Aix)stolic Fathers" (,") vols.. Lon- don, 1889-1890); abbreviated edition, Lightfoot-