Friday, January 31, 2014

How Long Were the Original Manuscripts Around? Considerations on the NT Autographa and Early NT Apographa from Scripture and Patristic Writers, part 7

            Irenaeus, writing c. A. D. 190 or later,[i] at the conclusion of his (now lost) treatise De Ogdoade,[ii] stated:

I adjure thee, who shalt transcribe this book, by our Lord Jesus Christ, and by His glorious appearing, when He comes to judge the living and the dead, that thou compare what thou hast transcribed, and be careful to set it right according to this copy from which thou hast transcribed; also, that thou in like manner copy down this adjuration, and insert it in the transcript.[iii]

This warning recalls the statement with which the apostle John closed the Revelation and the canon (22:18-19), and provides physical evidence that Irenaeus and his contemporaries took copying seriously.[iv]  If an uninspired and now lost patristic writing generated such a severe aduration, how much the more would copies of Scripture been replicated with tremendous care?

            Rufinus, in his prologue to his translation of the works of Origen c. A. D. 400,[v] makes a similar, yet even stronger statement than Irenaeus:

And, verily, in the presence of God the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, I adjure and beseech every one, who may either transcribe or read these books, by his belief in the kingdom to come, by the mystery of the resurrection from the dead, and by that everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels, that, as he would not possess for an eternal inheritance that place where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth, and where their fire is not quenched and their worm dieth not, he add nothing to Scripture, and take nothing away from it, and make no insertion or alteration, but that he compare his transcript with the copies from which he made it, and make the emendations and distinctions according to the letter, and not have his manuscript incorrect or indistinct, lest the difficulty of ascertaining the sense, from the indistinctness of the copy, should cause greater difficulties to the readers.[vi]

Elsewhere Rufinus, reiterating this warning he had made about alteration of his translation of Origen, declares:

Of this I solemnly warn every one who may read or copy out these books, in the sight of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, and adjure him by our belief in the kingdom which is to come, by the assurance of the resurrection from the dead, and by that eternal fire which is prepared for the devil and his angels, [emphasis in source text]— I adjure him, as he would not have for his eternal portion that place where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth, where their worm dieth not and their fire is not quenched, that he should add nothing to this writing, take away nothing, insert nothing, and change nothing.[vii]

Emphasizing the point yet further elsewhere, and adding a number of interesting details, including specific directions concerning accuracy in copying the very letters and punctuation,[viii] Rufinus states:

In the sight of God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, I adjure and require everyone who shall either read or copy these books of mine, by his belief in a kingdom to come, by the mystery of the resurrection from the dead, by the eternal fire which is “prepared for the devil and his angels;” as he hopes not to inherit eternally that place where “there is weeping and gnashing of teeth,” and where “their worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched,” let him add nothing to what is written, let him subtract nothing, let him insert nothing, let him alter nothing, but let him compare his transcript with the copies from which it is made, let him correct it to the letter, and let him punctuate it aright. Every manuscript that is not properly corrected and punctuated he must reject: for otherwise the difficulties in the text arising from the want of punctuation will make obscure arguments still more obscure to those who read them.[ix]

The extreme strength of these adjurations concerning copyist accuracy, with their expansive Divine imprecations and detailed copyist directions, points to a tremendous concern for faithful MSS transmission in Rufinus’ day.  Copyists knew that alteration of the text was a crime worthy of eternal torment, something that by no means should be taken lightly.

VII. Conclusion

            Since the God of truth has promised to preserved His Word, Scripture has not been lost or corrupted—in the Textus Receptus which underlies the KJV Christ’s churches and saints possess a perfect replica of the autographa.  While the inherent limitations of history make empirical demonstration of this proposition impossible, factual data can testify to its historical rationality.  Scripture proves the immediate recognition of the Greek canon by the churches, and the early and widespread dissemination of NT documents.  Post-Biblical patristic data suggest that the autographs, authoritative manuscripts immediately derived from them, and others only a few generations from the directly inspired originals, remained extant for centuries.  Patristic writings also evince a widespread concern for copyist accuracy.  These testimonies verify the presuppositionally certain safe passage of the Received Text from the original records of holy men of God moved by the Holy Ghost, through the ancient church period, into its medieval, reformation, and post-reformation textual dominance.

Note: this entire study is available as an essay here.

[i]           “Irenaeus,” pg. 523, A Dictionary of Christian Biography.

[ii]           The fragment appears in Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History, 5:20.

[iii]          Cited in “Fragments From the Lost Writings of Irenaeus,” AN:I:7709;  cf. Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History (books I-V), 5:20, trans. Kirsopp Lake.  Cambridge, MA: Loeb Classical Library, Harvard University Press, 2001.

[iv]          This does not mean, of course, that every copyist in the ancient church period did a marvelous job.  Jerome, writing to Lucinius (Letter LXXI;  NPN-2:5:34465), states that “As for my poor works which from no merits of theirs but simply from your own kindness you say that you desire to have; I have given them to your servants to transcribe, I have seen the paper-copies made by them, and I have repeatedly ordered them to correct them by a diligent comparison with the originals. For so many are the pilgrims passing to and fro that I have been unable to read so many volumes. They have found me also troubled by a long illness from which this Lent I am slowly recovering as they are leaving me. If then you find errors or omissions which interfere with the sense, these you must impute not to me but to your own servants; they are due to the ignorance or carelessness of the copyists, who write down not what they find but what they take to be the meaning, and do but expose their own mistakes when they try to correct those of others.”  Of course, this sloppiness is not at all excused or endorsed—and these men were copying Jerome’s works, not God’s Word.  It is noteworthy that Jerome, at the end of this paragraph, says, “The new testament I have restored to the authoritative form of the Greek original,” when he had shortly before used the word “originals” to refer to the first copy of his own work from his own hand.  Jerome elsewhere affirms that “study of holy scripture. . . . requires plenty of books and silence and careful copyists and above all freedom from alarm and a sense of security” (The Letters of St. Jerome, Letter CXXVI, To Marcellinus and Anapsychia, NPN-2:2:34964), prioritizing accurate replication of MSS, such as Jerome doubtless enforced among his “pupils devoted to the art of copying” (The Letters of St. Jerome, Letter V, To Florentinus, NPN-2:2:33809).

[v]           “Rufinus,” pg. 878-9, A Dictionary of Christian Biography. NPN-2 states that this was the “Preface to the Translations of Origen’s Books Peri« ÔArcw◊n Addressed to Macarius, at Pinetum, A. D. 397 (NPN-2:Preface:19909).

[vi]          AN:Prologue of Rufinus:34705.  The section of the prologue as found in the works of Rufinus, Preface to the Translations of Origen’s Books (NPN-2:Preface to the Translations:19912), reads as follows: “This only I require of every man who undertakes to copy out these books or to read them, in the sight of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, and adjure him by our faith in the coming kingdom, by the assurance of the resurrection of the dead, by the eternal fire which is prepared for the devil and his angels (even as he trusts that he shall not possess as his eternal inheritance that place where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth, and where their fire will not be quenched and their worm will not die) that he should neither add nor take away, that he should neither insert nor change, anything in that which is written but that he should compare his copy with that from which it is copied and correct it critically letter for letter, and that he should not keep by him a copy which has not received correction or criticism, lest, if his copy is not thus distinct, the difficulty of the meaning may beget a still greater obscurity in the mind of the readers.”  Alongside a number of less important differences, this latter version of the preface makes the imprecation clearly refer to the alteration of Rufinus’ translation of Origen, rather than Scripture, by changing what AN reads as “he add nothing to Scripture, and take nothing away from it” to the NPN-2 “he should neither insert or change, anything in that which is written.”  The warning of the preface does indeed relate directly to Rufinus’ translation—which fits the context—rather than to the NT directly, as the quote above from the AN version might seem to indicate.  Nevertheless, such concern provides an a fortiori argument for patristic concern for copying the Bible.

[vii]         The Apology of Rufinus, Book 1, NPN-2:16:20031.

[viii]         Since other writings were punctuated, could Scripture MSS from this time (A. D. 398—see The Letters of St. Jerome: Letter LXXX, From Rufinus to Macarius, NPN-2:Intro:34540) have been punctuated as well?

[ix]          The Letters of St. Jerome: Letter LXXX, From Rufinus to Macarius (NPN-2:3:34543).

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Deceit and Tragedy of the Wrong Attribution of Success or a Wrong View of Success in Church Leadership, part four

Part One   Part Two   Part Three

In the first part of this series, I asked you to join me in a thought experiment about a church that "doesn't make it" and about one that does "make it," but never gets very big.  We considered typical explanations for this lack of success.  At the end of the first and then all the way through the second installments, we criticized those explanations.  Except for a small part of the third of them, that men might not be gifted for the office, did I agree with them.  They are not legitimate evaluations.  They aren't biblical and don't enable or offer an accurate assessment or judgment.  At the beginning of part three, I explained what motivated me to write this series and then started in on a right or scriptural criteria for success in church leadership.

To evidence his superiority to false teachers, Paul revealed his standard for success in 2 Corinthians 11.  You would know first that someone was a servant of Christ by whether he suffered or not.  This is what Jesus had prophesied for His church leaders in Matthew 10 and John 15, among other places.  In Luke 20, He ended his public teaching by telling a story about how his servants had suffered.

Men love light rather than darkness.  In the last days, men will be lovers of pleasure and lovers of themselves.  We live in a society where one would be deemed successful for avoiding suffering and expanding comfort and convenience.  Today's person is happier if you tolerate or accept what he does.

Paul suffered because he shined light into darkness.  He called on men to deny themselves.  He was very often intolerant.  All of that brought suffering.  The paradox of biblical success is that men would judge that to be failure.

When I've been asked what it takes to preach well, I say, first, courage.  Why?  Men won't like what the Bible teaches.  You'll come to a passage that clashes with the audience and will you tell them what it says?  Men often alter the interpretation and application to fit their audience.  When you do that, you can avoid suffering through toleration.

Through the years doctrines and practices have changed because of the reaction to those beliefs and practices.  Men reformulate what the Bible says to make men feel more comfortable.  While hastening apostasy, this action can popularize a church and church leaders.

John MacArthur is a gifted preacher and communicator.   He's obviously hard working.  However, I have heard many preachers who are equal to or better than him, who pastor much smaller churches.  Is he a bigger success than them?  Or is he even a success?  Is it possible that his church should have been much smaller if he had not tolerated and accepted what they shouldn't have?

There are five or six biblical issues that combined will guarantee that your church will be small today.  They will bring you ridicule, disdain, scorn, and rejection.  They repulse darkness.  That list of issues is growing.  Is the person who stands on those issues, who keeps the biblical position, and in doing so, stays small, less of a success, or even a failure?   Or does his willingness to keep standing and stay small, when he could be big, easily much bigger, actually mean that he is a success?  Is the big church and the popular church leader the true failure and the one truly lacking in success?

Success relates to what God thinks about us, what He knows about us.  A lot of people might see someone as a success, who to God is less of a success or even a failure.  He might be and probably is causing a lot of problems.  He's popular, but he's really leading men astray and hastening apostasy.  I believe this is the truth.  Men who lead these small churches in the truth need to keep going and keep believing God.  Success is a matter of faith.

Men don't see suffering as a sign of success.  Paul said it was.  For instance, if you go to the tax forms for last year for Grace to You radio, you'll see that John MacArthur made over $400,000 from the part time he spends on that radio program.  Obviously John MacArthur is Grace to You.  People listen to him all over the world.  Would Grace to You exist without all the compromise of John MacArthur?  I contend "no."  Phil Johnson, the executive director, made about $220,000.  I doubt this is their sole income.  It isn't including the books, the church, the special speaking, etc.  I know that if this was a secular company, they could or would be making much more.  I know that.  But how does that happen in "Christian service"? [See comment below, the fifth comment, to give some context here, still making the same point.]

I don't begrudge men money made for work they've done.  If someone in my church gets a better job or has a business that thrives and makes big money, I'm happy for them.  Of course, those are jobs.  They are money making endeavors.  How is it that someone could become so popular in this country that he could make big money by being a preacher?  I don't see that occurring without compromise today, and it is true.  When you can make so much money from preaching, there is a trap there that is extremely seductive.  Can you really have the best selling non-fiction hardbook of all time, like Rick Warren, and be faithful to the Word of God?  I don't believe it.  You are tolerating darkness.  You are diminishing the light for the sake of some kind of worldly success.  As a Christian, especially in this environment, if you are popular, then you are doing something wrong.

Even when someone like John MacArthur takes a right position, like premillennialism or believer's baptism, he doesn't separate over the contradictions to those truths.  That enables him to keep a big coalition and not offend those he would need to keep.  There is much, much more than that with him.  He preaches against Strange Fire and then fellowships with Strange Fire.  He rocks the boat for sure with the Charismatics.  But that doesn't mean his people have to give up their alcohol, their pop music, their skimpy dress, or their movies.  They can comfortably live about just like the world and still be a Christian.  There isn't much difference between their light and the darkness.

When the Jesus Movement was exploding, John MacArthur wasn't doing enough to offend them.  The Maranatha music and their new versions of the Bible and their long hair and casual dress -- none of those would be a deal breaker at Grace Community Church.  I'm not saying that MacArthur is just like the world.  He isn't.  He takes some strong stands.  He's probably the strongest person ever on the Larry King panel.  But how does someone get to the Larry King panel without being some kind of worldly success today?  He doesn't.  It's the same with Billy Graham.  How can someone continually get into the White House with president after president?  He just wouldn't if he was saying what he should be saying.

I was watching Mark Driscoll interview several Seattle Seahawks, who claim to be Christians, including their quarterback.  Driscoll started by asking, "Who is Jesus?"  The first guy, I think a defensive lineman, said, "Jesus is everything."  He's everything.  What is the Lord's Day?  Does anyone think about the Lord's Day?  The Super Bowl is on the what?  Lord's Day.  If Jesus is everything, do you play your game on the Lord's Day?  What about the half time show with all of godless paganism and "wardrobe malfunction"?  This was a no brainer for someone even 100 years ago, who would say that "Jesus is everything." I hope these men are saved.  I'm glad they would even mention Jesus.  Are people going to believe the Jesus of the Bible because of their testimony?  I hope so, but is this a success?  How would a follow up question from a preacher have been accepted:  "So why do you have a profession that takes up the Lord's Day with your profession?"  Instead, a professing preacher promotes these men who do this.  Who is a success?  The man who could have had a professional football career, but gave it up for the Lord's Day, or the man who took that profession?  Who is exalted by Mark Driscoll?  

More to Come

Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Deceit and Tragedy of the Wrong Attribution of Success or a Wrong View of Success in Church Leadership, part three

Part One   Part Two

There were several factors that came together at once, that got my thinking about a view of success and attribution of success in church leadership.  Part of it is the experience of vicious, unmerited attack, wondering how this originates and where it comes from.  I expect harsh criticism, because Jesus prophesied it, but I find myself looking into the source, when it is wacky and grossly unsubstantiated, of the total cheap-shot variety, full of lies.

Another motivator was the reaction of major evangelicals to the "holy hip-hop" debate, especially Albert Mohler.  I was thinking about his relationship to the "conservative resurgence" in the Southern Baptist Convention and advocacy for "holy hip-hop."  I am convinced now that the conservative resurgence in the big picture, in the long run, will serve to be worse than if the SBC had simply taken its course.  What I'm saying is that the cure will be worse than the disease.  That will likely be a whole other blog post in the near future.  I'm saying that Albert Mohler is doing more damage than good.

Another couple of factors came from a controversy related to conservative evangelicals, cessationists, and Charismatics.  It's been around on simmer for awhile, but the heat turned up on the burner with John MacArthur's Strange Fire conference.  MacArthur and his church savaged the Charismatic movement, in the midst of which he and several other participants said plainly that music was the means of entrance.  Again and again, they agreed that music was how someone started being deceived into the movement.  At the end of the conference, MacArthur said, and oddly, sort of out of the blue, seeming to answer some unknown critic, that the trajectory of Grace Community Church was the Protestant Reformation and not the Jesus Movement.  I mean, who had said anything about that?

Another aspect of the last one in the previous paragraph has been the after conference battle of the Strange Fire conference participants and defenders with the Charismatic apologist Michael Brown, and his rebuttal book, Authentic Fire.  I obviously side with MacArthur on this one, but it has been interesting, and even entertaining, nonetheless.  What was especially so was the Benny Hinn-Michael Brown get-together that was bombarded by the Strange Firers.  This was proof positive that the baby and the bathwater were just about one and the same.  You might not be able to find a baby in the bathwater, to articulate a metaphor (or cliche) that Brown used and that Phil Johnson pounced upon in a Strange Fire session.  The Brown allies came right back at the MacArthur confederation with a charge of hypocrisy, because of MacArthur's one time appearance on Paul Crouch's Trinity Broadcasting Network to promote one of his books -- Hard to Believe.  The hypocrisy charge was that Brown appearing with Benny Hinn was like MacArthur appearing on TBN to promote a book.

The Strange Fire alliance has answered the Brown Charismatic crowd by saying that MacArthur's appearance was way different -- it just was, not to be compared with Brown and Hinn.  Hard to Believe was a stark repudiation supposedly of TBN, and so on.  Phil Johnson said Paul Crouch hated MacArthur's appearance and they just wouldn't even re-air it after that.  I don't know.  I watched the appearance, and here it is.

MacArthur's appearance with celebrity Christian Kirk Cameron appears like a television variety show.  They sit on those variety show stools with the studio audience clapping and clapping as if they were being entertained.  There is no doubt that there is some playing to the audience with things that are said.  Was that TBN audience being confronted for the travesty that is TBN?  Not at all.  Anything MacArthur was saying could be viewed through a TBN grid.  How could they be clapping so much if they really knew what he was talking about?  And there was no attempt to clarify.  But that wasn't the worst of it.

In order to entertain the TBN crowd, then comes at the 20 minute mark MacArthur's son-in-law Kory Welch, in front of this lavish television set, singing to entertain the audience.  I'm not going to give my take on his performance in any detail, but the whole thing comes off as a "Christian" version of a television variety show.  The style is worldly in so many aspects, music and appearance.   It wasn't praise to God.  It was a performance that fit in perfectly with a TBN crowd.   Now remember, MacArthur "doesn't have a trajectory" from the Jesus Movement, even though he benefited big numbers in Southern California from the Jesus Movement, when he was calling it a genuine revival.  Those kids fit in fine with John MacArthur because he didn't do anything to stop them from these types of abuses that now he says are the entrance into the movement.  According to MacArthur, that music is the entrance into the Charismatic movement.  You've got this studio set, the worldly music, and an adoring TBN crowd.  There was definitely no repudiation of TBN with his appearance -- sad really, but unfortunately not surprising.  The Charismatic style music is at his own church, and now at the Shepherd's Conference with the addition of the rock band this last year, what was before featured at their youth conference.  People there can pick up that taste for an easy segue and acceptance of Charismatic styled worship that now MacArthur is calling Strange Fire.

Before I move on, when I talk like this, the way this is marginalized is by calling names, like flame-throwing fundamentalist.  This really is typical of evangelicalism, more than even fundamentalism, to go to name-calling in order to disrespect the critique.   Most people want any kind of music style they want.  It will be easy for them to go along with name-calling as a means of excusing themselves.  If not a flame-thrower, I'll hear that I'm KJVO, which has nothing to do with what we're talking about.  I'd be glad to talk about that, but it is hardly related to this.  They know their crowd, however, will not respect anyone who still uses the King James Version of the Bible, and so that is code language.

Biblical Credentials for Success

What is success, according to the Bible?  In 2 Corinthians, Paul differentiated himself from the false apostles, the false teachers, that had subverted his teaching and ministry at Corinth.  What do you think would be the credentials of Paul that were different than those appearing as angels of light to deceive the Corinthians?  What he said they were, I don't think are what people would think they would be.  I don't think they would even cross someone's mind.  How would someone know Paul was true and those fakes were false?  In 2 Corinthians 11:23, Paul was indicating how the Corinthians could determine who was a minister of Christ, a servant of the Lord, and who was not.  How would they know?

How you could tell someone was real and not fake was by the suffering they were enduring.  Paul lists from 2 Corinthians 11, verses 23 to 27, what was preeminent in a determination of authenticity.  Why would the real be suffering, when the false would not?  The real are confronting the darkness with light.  The real are contradicting the world, the culture, the zeitgeist.  The genuine are not conforming to the world, are denying worldly lust.  The false can do just fine and keep very comfortable because they are not pointing out those areas that will bring the unpopularity that will shrink their following.

The false are all about getting and keeping the bigger crowd and are not going to teach certain uncomfortable teachings of scripture.  With evangelicals, it is a matter of finding that sweet spot, where they hang on to enough true doctrine without offending too many, so that they would get too small to meet an understanding of success.

In this world, in this present climate, I don't believe someone will get to the size of a MacArthur and many others who are even bigger than him, in order to keep their opportunities, without a compromise for the sake of a worldly standard of success.  Everyone getting very big in this country should be suspect.  What sinning, what fleshliness, what worldliness, what false worship are they failing to confront?  How are they dimming their light in the darkness?  That is what happens.  They are deemed successful, but in fact they are not.  They are avoiding the suffering of allowing their light to shine brightly.  They'll say it's something else, but that's really what it is.

And I'll talk more about that in the next post.

Friday, January 24, 2014

How Long Were the Original Manuscripts Around? Considerations on the NT Autographa and Early NT Apographa from Scripture and Patristic Writers, part 6

VI. Patristic Testimony to Careful Copying Practices

            Patristic declarations demonstrate that they inherited the apostolic concern for accurate copying.  Polycarp declared that “whosoever perverts the oracles of the Lord . . . is the first-born of Satan.”[i]  Concern for accurate copying and transmission of Scripture continued from his day on through the later periods of church history, so that, for example, the Council in Trullo (A. D. 692) decreed it “unlawful for anyone to corrupt or cut up a book of the Old or New Testament . . . or to hand it over for destruction to any other like persons: unless to be sure it has been rendered useless either by bookworms, or by water, or in some other way. He who henceforth shall be observed to do such a thing shall be cut off for one year. Likewise also he who buys such books (unless he keeps them for his own use, or gives them to another for his benefit to be preserved) and has attempted to corrupt them, let him be cut off.”[ii] Tertullian argued:
Now, what is there in our Scriptures which is contrary to us? What of our own have we introduced, that we should have to take it away again, or else add to it, or alter it, in order to restore to its natural soundness anything which is contrary to it, and contained in the Scriptures? What we are ourselves, that also the Scriptures are (and have been) from the beginning. Of them we have our being, before there was any other way, before they were interpolated by you [heretics]. Now, inasmuch as all interpolation must be believed to be a later process, for the express reason that it proceeds from rivalry which is never in any case previous to nor home-born with that which it emulates, it is as incredible to every man of sense that we should seem to have introduced any corrupt text into the Scriptures, existing, as we have been, from the very first, and being the first, as it is that they have not in fact introduced it who are both later in date and opposed (to the Scriptures).[iii]
Alteration of Scripture by the orthodox to suit their purposes is unthinkable and “incredible”;  no redaction, recension, restorative lower criticism, or any other forms of alteration are necessary, since “the unmutilated text of our own copy”[iv] retained the “natural soundness” it had “from the beginning.”  Any changes in the extant Scripture were the exclusive province of heresy.  Tertullian demonstrates both the importance the orthodox placed upon accurate copying and their affirmation of success in this endeavor.
            Comparisons with the originals, or with known accurate copies, was a common practice for patristic works, and certainly for the Bible as well.  For example, three Gallic bishops sent their copy of Leo’s Tome back to him, requesting:
Therefore, if you deem it worth while, we entreat your holiness to run through and correct any mistake of the copyist in this work, so valuable both now and in the future, which we have had committed to parchment, in our desire to preserve it . . . so that not only many holy bishops our brethren throughout the provinces of Gaul, but also many of your sons among the laity, who greatly desire to see this letter for the revelation of the Truth, may be permitted, when it is sent back to us, corrected by your holy hand, to transcribe, read and keep it.[v]
The authoritative source was sought for, and when accurate readings from it were ascertained, further copies were made from the definitive replica.
            Examples of careful copying of patristic writings indicate the nature of the replication that would have a fortiori been employed for the NT.  The Encyclical Epistle of the Church at Smyrna Concerning the Martyrdom of the Holy Polycarp, likely composed c. A. D. 155-160,[vi] was sent from “the Church of God which sojourns at Smyrna, to the Church of God sojourning in Philomelium,”[vii] with the intent that after “ye have yourselves read this Epistle, be pleased to send it to the brethren at a greater distance, that they also may glorify the Lord, who makes such choice of His own servants.”[viii]  It was intended for widespread copying and distribution.  Near the end, it reads, “Evarestus . . . wrote this Epistle . . . these things Caius transcribed from the copy of Irenaeus (who was a disciple of Polycarp), having himself been intimate with Irenaeus. And I Socrates transcribed them at Corinth from the copy of Caius. . . . And I again, Pionius, wrote them from the previously written copy, having carefully searched into them.”[ix]  The record of scribal names and the mention of “carefully search[ing]” into the matters at hand indicate concern with the accurate transcription of this record of martyrdom.  The Word of God would have received no less.

Note: this entire study is available as an essay here.

[i]           The Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians, AN:7:553.  Irenaeus reports in his Against Heresies (Book 3, AN:3:5693) that “Polycarp himself replied to Marcion [the infamous corrupter of the NT text], who met him on one occasion, and said, ‘Dost thou know me?’ [with] ‘I do know thee, the first-born of Satan.’”  Polycarp would certainly have given this pungent title to those who corrupt the words of Scripture, not to those alone who teach falsely.

[ii]           Canon LXVIII, NPN-2:LXVIII:85928.

[iii]          The Prescription Against Heretics, AN:XXXVIII:20377.

[iv]          Five Books Against Marcion, AN:V:XIII:24131.

[v]           The Letters and Sermons of Leo the Great, Bishop of Rome, Letter LXVIII (NPN-2:II:73025).  This letter was written at some point during his papacy, A. D. 440-461 (A Dictionary of Christian Biography, pg. 644).

[vi]          “Polycarpus,” pgs. 846-850, A Dictionary of Christian Biography.

[vii]         AN:Intro:661.

[viii]         AN:XX:701.

[ix]          AN:XX:701-AN:XXII:707.