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OticTipfKov Hok^KOpiros t Kol $p6vov iipx^^pvos 
•'Eo'x* ical &rp€K4us iMprvplr\s trrc^vovs, 

Anth. Pal. i. 87. 

jgarlB Cbtttcb Classics* 








London : Northumberland avenue, w.c. ; 

43, queen victoria street, e.c. 

Brighton : 129, north street. 

New York : E. & J. B. YOUNG & CO. 









V. MSS. AND VERSIONS . . . .25 





6)0 1 


This translation oi the on« Extant Letter of St. Polycsorpt 
and oi ike Letter of the Smyrnaeans narrating his martyr'* 
dom, is designed to put within the reach of English 
readers in a handy form two of the most valuable of the 
classics of the Church» In point of time the Episite of 
Pcdycarp is one of the writings which come very near to 
those of canonical authority. It may with reasonable 
probability be placed within some quarter of a century 
a£ter the publication of St. John's Gospel, a somewhat 
shorter interval separating it from the Epistle of St« 
Clement. It appears to have been read in public at least 
as late as the time of , Jerome^ who in his de Viris Mlusii 
xvii. calls it," valde utilem epistokm quae usque hodie itk 
A^ae conventu legitur." It perhaps hardly deserved x\A 
dejn-eciatory description of being " but a commonplaoi 
echo of the apostolic epistles'' (D.C.B. iv. 424), but it is 
distinctly inferior in literary power to the Letters o£ 
Clement, and Ignatius. One of the chief reasons why it 
is valuable is that it does "echo'' canonical writings, and 
proves their dissemination and acceptance at the time of 
its ccmiposition. Unlike the Epistle of Clement, who was 
brought up amid Jewish associations^ it shows far less 
familiarity with Hebrew Literature than with apostolic 
writings. Its reproduction of apostolic thought is obviotss 
in cases where no verbal correspondence can be asserted. 
Special attention is called by marked type in this edttioit 
to instances of unquestionable quotation and reference^ 
and these, if less numerous than those claimed for it in 


some quarters, afford a remarkable vindication of Epistles 
of St. Paul of which the genuineness has been assailed, 
and are quite incompatible with any antagonism between 
the supposed rival Johannine school and Pauline school. 
The Letter of the Smymaeans embodies the fullest and 
not the least affecting contemporary narrative of an early 
martyrdom. The faith, constancy, and courtesy of the 
aged Bishop are a striking illustration of the power work- 
ing in the Roman world since Pentecost, and gradually 
subduing it. With the exception of the obvious inter- 
polation or misreading of the " dove " in Chap. xvi. there 
is nothing of the grotesquely marvellous which disfigures 
some later stories. The placing of the martyrdom under 
Antoninus Pius furnishes an illustration of the fact that the 
reigns of " good " emperors were not good times for the 
Church. The period between A.D. 98 and 180, covering 
the generally beneficent reigns of Trajan, Hadrian, 
Antoninus Pius, and Marcus Aurelius, includes famous 
persecutions. The accession of the brutal Commodus 
brought relief. So long as Christianity was not a " Religio 
Licita " it was always open to a zealous or hostile magis- 
trate to put unrepealed edicts in force. Bishop Lightfoot 
dates the martyrdom of Publius Bishop of Athens (Euseb. 
Hist Ecc, iv. 23), and of Ptolemaeus and Lucius (Justin, 
Apol, ii. 2), as well as that of Polycarp and his com- 
panions, in the reign of Antoninus Pius. The second of 
these cases supplies a striking illustration of the state of 
things normally obtaining in the empire. Arrest might 
come at any moment, without organized and general 
persecution. The form of procedure indicates that later 
reigns saw no abrogation of the principle formulated under 
Trajan, that the bare confession of Christianity was held 
to be a capital offence irrespectively of any moral offences 
included in an accusation. 





I. Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, writing c. 
A.D. no: 

(a) ** I would give my life for you, and for 
them whom for God's honour you sent to 
Smyrna, from which place I am writing to you, 
giving thanks to the Lord, loving Polycarp even 
as I love you." — Eph. xxi. 

(iS) " The Ephesians from Smyrna, from which 
place I am writing to you, salute you. They 
are here with me for the glory of God, just as 
you are (/. e. in the persons of their envoys), and 
they have in all things refreshed me, together 
with Polycarp, Bishop of the Smyrnxans." — 
Mag, XV. 


(y) " I salute your holy Bishop and venerable 
presbytery and the deacons my fellow servants." 
— Smym, xii. 

(6) " Ignatius to Polycarp, Bishop of the 
Church of the Smyrnaeans, . . . hearty greet- 
ing." — Polyc, Inscr, etc. 

II. The "Shepherd" of Hermas, c. A.D. 150. 
The references here are less obvious and direct 
than in other authors, but Dr. C. Taylor (^Journal 
of Philology^ XX.) is of opinion that Hermas knew 
and used Polycarp's Epistle : e,g, HermdiSy Mand. 
xii. i. I, on "bridling" and "fighting lust," 
would appear to be in connection with both 
James i. 26 and iii. 2, and Polycarp, Ep, § 5. 
Again the remarkable description of " widows " 
as an " Altar of God,*' in connexion with the 
charge to " make supplication unceasingly," sug- 
gests parallels with Hermas, Mand. x^ iif. 2; 
Sim, ii. 5, V. 3, 7, and ix. 27. 

III. Letter of the Smyrnaeans, c, A.D. 156, 
translated herein. 

IV. Lucian, the witty litterateur of Samosata, 
writing r. A.D. 165-170. Bishop Lightfoot {Apost, 
Fathers y II. 1. p. 606) enumerates the possible 
references to the martyrdom of Polycarp in the 
satire on the Death of Peregrinus, who com- 
mitted suicide at the Olympic Games of A.D. 
165. Salient points are (i) the lighting of the 


pyre with torches attd fagots, (ii) the stripping 
off the GlotheSj (iii) the prayer on the pyre, (iv) 
the comparison with a bakings and (v) the eager- 
ness of the crowd for relics. 
V. Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons, -f- c^ A.D. 20D* 
(a) Adv. Hcer. iii, 3 ; cf. Euseb. Hist E€c, tv^ 
14. '^ Polycarp too, who wais liot m&y Jftsfeti^ied 
by Apostles, and had been the companio«t of 
many that had seen the Christ, but had als<3^ 
been appointed for Asia by Apostles as Btehc^ 
of the Church in Smyrna. We ourselves have 
seen him in our early manhood, for he long sur- 
vived and departed this life at a great age, after 
a glorious and most splendid martyrdom. He 
constantly taught what he had learned from 
the Apostles, what the Church hands down, ai4d 
what alone is true." 

In the continuation of this passage, Ircli*ud 
refers to the visit of Polycarp to Ronrie to conffef 
with Anicetus, who was Bishop of Rome c. A.D. 
153-155- "There are those," he adds, "who 
have heard him tell how John, the disciple of the 
Lord, when he went to take a bath in Ephesus, 
and saw Cerinthus within, rushed away from 
the bath without bathing, with the words, ' Let 
us flee, lest the room should even fall in, for 
Cerinthus, the enemy of the truth, is within/ 
Yea, and Polycarp himself also, when Marcion 


on one occasion confronted him, and said 
* Recognise us/ replied, * Aye, aye, I recognise 
the first-bom of Satan/ So great care did the 
Apostles and their disciples take not to hold any 
conimunication, even by word, with any of those 
who falsify the truth, as Paul also said, * A man 
that is an heretic, after the first and second 
admonition reject ; knowing that he that is such 
is subverted and sinneth, being condemned of 

(iS) In the Letter to Victor (Euseb. H,E. v. 24): 
" When the blessed Polycarp sojourned at Rome 
in the days of Anicetus, they had some slight 
difference with one another, on this and on other 
matters. They did not care to have any strife 
on this point, and at once made peace. On the 
one hand Anicetus was unable to persuade 
Polycarp not to observe the customs which he 
had always observed with John, the Lord's 
disciple, and with the rest of the Apostles in 
whose company he had lived. Nor on the other 
hand did Polycarp persuade Anicetus to observe 
them, for he urged that he ought to hold to the 
practice of the presbyters before him. Under 
these circumstances they communicated together, 
and in the Church Anicetus yielded the Eucharist ^ 
to Polycarp, plainly as a mark of respect ; thus 

^ I. e, the privilege of offering the eucharistic sacrifice. 



both parties, the observer and the non-observers, 
kept the peace of the whole Church, and so 

(y) In the Adv. Hcer, v, 33, § 4, Irenaeus speaks 
of Papias (Bishop of Hierapolis, f c, A,D. 140), 
"hearer of John and a companion of Polycarp." 

(5) In his Letter to Florinus (Euseb. Hist. 
Ecc. V. 20) Irenaeus writes — " When I was still a 
boy, I saw thee in Lower Asia at Poly carp's, 
faring splendidly in the imperial court, and en- 
deavouring to stand well with him. For I 
remember the events of that time more clearly 
than what is of recent occurrence. The lessons 
learned in childhood grow with the growth of 
the soul, and become one with it ; and so I am 
able to tell even the spot where the blessed 
Polycarp used to sit and discourse, his goings 
out and his comings in, his manner of life, his 
personal appearance, and the public discourses 
which he used to give. I remember how he used 
to tell of his intercourse with John, and with the 
rest of those who had seen the Lord, and how 
he recalled and related their words. And such 
particulars as he had heard concerning the Lord, 
and concerning His mighty works, and concern- 
ing His teaching, Polycarp, as having derived 
them from the eye-witnesses of the life of the 
Word, used to tell without exception in harmony 


With the Scriptures. To these things by Gods 
mercy I used to listen with all my might, noting 
them down from time to time, if not on paper, in 
my heart ; and ever by God's grace I faithfully 
turn them over and over in my mind And I 
am able to bear witness before God that if any- 
thhig of the kind {t,e. the heresy previously 
referred to) had been heard by that blessed and 
apostolic elder he would have cried out, and 
stopped his ears, and with his familiar words^ 
* Oh good God, to what times hast Thou kept 
me that I should endure these things/ would 
have fled from the spot where he was sitting or 
standing whert he had heard such words* And 
this can be made quite plain from the letters 
which he wrote whether to the Churches in his 
nipighbourhood confirming them, or to certain of 
the brethren warning and exhorting them*" 

(«) In the Adv. Hcer. iii* 3, 4, Irenaeus writes—^ 
"There is a very sufficient epistle of Polycarp 
written to the Philippians in which all who wish 
to do so, and care for their salvation, can learn 
both the character of his faith and of his preach- 
ing of the truth." 

VI. Polycrates, Bishop of Ephesus, f d A.D; 
195.— Ep. ad Victorem ep. Rom. apud Euseb. 
Hist. Ecc, V. 24. 

EnumeratJng the " great lights of Asia, t^h6 


have fallen ksleep and shall rise ^gain ad the day 
of the Lord's coming,'' Polycrates meatus 
** Polycairp, bishop and martyr at SmymdJ^ 

YII. Tfirtullian, writing, <r. a.d. 200, f f. ajo. 
340 : ** Thus it is that Apostolic Churches kaml 
down thdir registers ; as that of the SraymaBans 
recalls Polyc^p appointed by John." He 
Prascr. Hc$riU xxxiL 

VI 1 1. " Acts of Pionius," a martyr at Sm^noia, 
in the Decian persecution, March 12, A.IX 250 \ 
the date being fixed by the names of the 
consuls. Of the " Acts " two Latin form» of 
translation are extant (Bollandists, Feb. I, and 
Ruinart, Acta Sincera^ pp. 188, etseg.). **So on 
the second day of the sixth month, which is the 
IVth before the Ides of March, being a great 
Sabbath,^ on the birthday of Polycarp Ae 
martyr, persecution overtook Pionjus," etc. 

* March 12 was not a Saturday in A. p. 250. Bishqp 
Lightfoot considers the reference to the Sabbath an inter- 
polation, and would " with some confidence " restore the 
chronological notice at the close of the Acts of Pionius as 
follows : " These things happened when Julius Procujus 
Qnintilianus was Proconsul [of Asia], in the Consulship 
of [Imperator] Gaius Messius Quintus Trajanus Decius 
[Augustus] for the second time, and Vettius Gratus, 
according to Roman reckoning on the fourth before the 
Ides ef March, according to Asiatic reckoning on the 
nineteenth day of the sixth month, at the tenth hour, 
but, according to the reckoning of us (Christians), etc., 


IX. Eusebius, Bishop of Caesarea, f c. A.D. 340. 
In his CkronicoUy Eusebius writes on the first 
year of Trajan (a.d. 98) : " Irenaeus states that 
the Apostle John lived till the time of Trajan. 
After him Papias of Hierapolis and Polycarp, 
Bishop of the Province of the Smyrnaeans, were . 
recognised as his disciples." And after the 
seventh year of M. Aurelius (A,D. 167): " Per- 
secution attacking the Church, Polycarp under- 
went martyrdom. His martyrdom is committed 
to writing." ^ 

In his Ecc. Hist. lii. 36, 38 ; iv. 14, 15, and v. 
S and 20, there are references to the life and 
martyrdom of Polycarp. (Cf. pp. 9, 10, 11.) 

X. In the Apostolical Constitutions, of un- 
certain date, but in parts probably of the fourth 
century, there are three probable references to the 
Epistle of Polycarp, chap. iv. : "Our widows must 
be sober-minded . . . knowing that they are God's 
altar" ; viz. in iii. 6; iii. 14, and iii. 26. 

in the reign of our Lord Jesus Christ, etc."--Lightfoot 
Apost, Fathers y II. i. p. 721. 

^ This statement has been the main source of opinion 
as to the date of the martyrdom. But it is to be observed 
that it is placed not over against, but ajter^ the date. 
And there immediately follows a reference to the persecu- 
tions at Vienne and Lyons in a.d. 177. Eusebius does 
not apparently mean to be more definite than that these 
martyrdoms happened about this period. See p.. 73, n. 



XI. Also of the latter part of the fourth 
century is probably the groundwork, if not the 
whole, of the fictitious Life of Poly carp ^ by 
Pionius, which incorporates the Epistle. It was 
published by the Bollandists in Latin, and 
a Greek Text was edited from a MS. in the 
Paris Library by Duchesne in i88l. 

XII. To these may be added : St. Jerome, c. 
A.D. 400, De Viris IllusL xvii. ; Socrates, c. A.D. 
440, Hist, Ecc, V. 22 ; Sozomen, c, A.D. 455, Hist, 
Ecc, vii. 19 ; Theodoret, A.D.446, Ep, cxlv. ; and, 
somewhat later, Antiochus of St. Saba, c, A.D. 610, 
as pointed out by Dr. Cotterill. (Cf. p. 18.) 

The evidence of quotation and reference is 
therefore strong ; far stronger than can be 
adduced for the genuineness of some of the most 
generally accepted classics. " To the concurrent 
testimony of antiquity," says Bishop Lightfoot 
{Apost, Fathers, II. 1. p. 582), "there is no ^dis- 
sentient voice." 





Q^ THE EPISTLE TO THE Pm, "'''^'' 

Church. -^ "^" "^^ Scriptures of t 

P"pil of i. TohT '" ''^" '^^^ °^ * fevouri, 

characteristic of, a later date x 'P^"^"- 

«4tft™'; ^?j!- -«^e to show that the conCe. 

P'"s a::d was probably a sm J h """'S" "^ Antoninus 
Epistle. But it hfl« I J ..' ^°^ =' the date of th» 


IV. Opponents of the genuineness of the 
Ignatian letters, with the questions touching 
which the defence of the Epistle of Polycarp is 
closely connected, have attributed both the Ig- 
natian Letters and the Letter of Polycarp to 
one and the same imaginary forger. 

The refutation of any such theory of common 
authorship lies in the fact of the obvious points 
of contrast marking the two works, a contrast, 
as Bishop Lightfoot remarks [/. r. p. 594], " more 
striking indeed than we should have expected to 
find between two Christian writers who lived at 
the same time, and were personally acquainted 
with each other." Among these points are : 

(o) Scripture. The one short Letter of Poly- 
carp contains much more quotation of the New 
Testament than the seven Letters of Ignatius, 
and where Ignatius does show familiarity with 
the New Testament it is mainly by allusion and 
turn of phrase. On the other hand, some 
students would go so far (^e,g. Funk, Die Echtheit 
der Ignatianischen Brief e^ p. 34, quoted by Light- 
foot) as to reckon thirtv-five direct quotations 
from the New Testament in Polycarp, twenty- 
two being from Apostolic Epistles. 

O) Doctrine. St. Polycarp is rather hortatory 
than didactic. In St. Ignatius we have plain 
statements as to the Incarnation, the real man- 



hood, and the two natures of the Lord, and the 
Sacrament of the Eucharist, as in Eph, vi. xiii. 
XX. ; Magn, vii. ; TralL viii. ; Philad, ivi etc 
Nothing of the kind occurs in Polycarp. 

(y) The Church and Church Organisation. 
St. Ignatius is strong on the unity of the Church 
and the Episcopate. St. Polycarp is silent as to 
unity, and only implies the Episcopate in his 
salutation, " Polycarp and the Presbyters With 

V. In the Journal of Philology ^ vol. xix. pp. 
241-285, Dr. Cotterill argued that Antiochu^^ 
monk of Santa Saba, early in the seventh century, 
whose Homilies (Migne, Greek Fathers^ Ixxxix.) 
contain portions of the Epistle, was probably 
himself the author of the Epistle of Polycarp. 

This novel theory has been elaborately refuted 
by Dr. C. Taylor, Master of St. John's College, 
Cambridge, in the Journal of Philology^ vol. xx. 




The narrative professes to be that of contem- 
poraries and eye-witnesses. Do the contents of 
the document afford indications that it was the 
composition of a later date, more or less fabulous 
and legendary? The grounds on which some 
critics ^ have given an affirmative answer to this 
challenge are : 

i. The miraculous element. Look, it has been 
said, at the dove (§ xvi.) issuing from the wound 
in the side, and at the flames (§ xv.) refusing to 
consume. What of the fragrance floating from 
the pyre? On these points see notes to the 
sections referred to. 

II. Apparent anachronisms, e,g, the reverence 
paid to martyrs and their relics. On this too see 

* e,g, Keim, who would place its date as late as 
A.D. 260-282 (Aus dent Urchristenthum^ J). 130). 



note on § xvii., and observe with Bishop Light- 
foot, how only " half a century later Tertullian 
uses language which shows that the ceremonial 
commemoration of the dead was far more 
developed than as here represented." — De Coron, 

III. The use of the phrase " Catholic Church," 
supposed to indicate a later date than A.D. 155. 
Why ? Even if the word be genuine in § xvi. 
where Polycarp is described in the Common 
Text as "Bishop of the Catholic Church in 
Smyrna,'* and the distinctive title be used to 
distinguish the Catholic Church from heretical 
sects, why not } There were already heretical 
sects, and there are almost contemporary in- 
stances of the use of the word Catholic in this 
sense (^.^. Clement of Alexandria, Strom, vii. 17). 

IV. A subtler objection has been the appar- 
ently artificial character of the incidents recorded 
as parallel to those of the Passion of our Lord. 
Attention is specially called to the prediction of 
death three days after apprehension (§ v.), to the 
name of the officer " Herodes " (§ vi.), to the 
treachery of one of the household (§ vi.), to the 
apprehension near the city (§§ v., vi.), at night 
(§ vii.), as a robber (§ vii.), to the words of 
resignation, " God's will be done " (§ vii.), and to 
the piercing of the body (§ xvi.). 


But these are all natural and likely circum- 
stances, and the tendency to group and represent 
them as reminders of the Passion of our Lord 
was so inevitable in the case of early martyrdoms 
as to call for no special remark. Obviously a 
fable-monger free to invent might have invented 
better coincidences than these. "The most 
striking coincidence," says Bishop Lightfoot, " is 
the name Herodes ; but this name was sufficiently 
frequent in Polycarp's time, and there is only a 
faint resemblance between the position of the 
Smyrnaean captain of police, who takes Pol)^carp 
into custody, and the Galilean King, whose part 
in the Passion was confined to insolent mockery, 
and who pronounced Jesus innocent of the 
charges brought against him. Here again a 
fabricator would have secured a better parallel. 
We may say generally that the violence of the 
parallelism is a guarantee of the accuracy of the 
facts!' — Bishop Lightfoot, Apost. Fatlurs, II. i. 
613, 614. 



Extant genuine authorities for the life of Poly- 
carpus,^ or Polycarp, of Smyrna, are confined to 
the passages already cited, and to materials to 
be gathered from the Letter of Polycarp and the 
Letter of the Smyrnaeans. 

The Pibnian "Life," referred to on p. 15, is 
plainly unauthentic. It deals largely with a 
fantastic supernaturalism, quotes non-existent 
documents, and cannot be relied on. It may, 
however, preserve some true traditions, It relates 
how Polycarp was a little slave-boy, bought and 
brought up by a pious and wealthy widow 
named Callisto, who eventually made him her 
steward. He was ordained Deacon by Bucolos 
(a personage of possible historical character, and 
perhaps appointed Bishop of Smyrna by St. 
John), Bishop of Smyrna, who loved him as a 

^ The name Polycarpus, noXvicap7roff,= fruitful, pro- 
ductive. Cf. Horn. Od, vii. 122, xxiv. 221. It was a 
common slave's name ; a Graffito at Pompeii advertises 
* Polycarpus fugit' 


son. That he wrote " many " treatises, sermons 
and letters, all destroyed by his persecutors 
about the time of the martyrdom, is improbable, 
for his extant Epistle gives no indications of 
practice in literary composition. But it may 
well have been one among several.^ 

The representation that he was a man of 
property is corroborated by the mention of the 
slave lads in the Letter of the Smyrnaeans (§ vi.), 
and by the probability that the homestead where 
he was arrested, and where he offered hospitality 
to the imperial officers, was his own (§§ vi., vii.). 

Was Polycarp a married man? This has 
been both asserted and denied on equally in- 
sufficient evidence. Ignatius in his Letter to 
Polycarp (§ v.) has been supposed to urge any 
one professing virginity to beware of arrogance, 
lest by acquiring greater fame than the Bishop he 
be ipso facto defiled ; and so to imply that the 
Bishop was not a celibate. But the true render- 
ing of the passage is almost certainly not " if he 
become known beyond the Bishop " but " if it 
become known," 1. e, if the profession of virginity 
go beyond the ears of the Bishop. Again, the 
fact that Alee is saluted in the Letter of Ignatius 
to Polycarp (§ viii.) and in that to the Smyrnaeans 
(g xiii.) is manifestly a slender support for the 
conjecture that she was Polycarp's wife. But as 
* Cf. Euseb. Hist, Ecc, v. 20, quoted on p. 12. 











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(i) Of the Epistle of Polycarp. 

a, MSS. The main authorities are : 

1. Vaticanus (V.), eleventh century, containing among 

various patristic tracts and sermons the Ignatian 
Letters as well as the Epistle of Polycarp. 

2. Ottobonianus (O.), in the Vatican Lib- 

rary, sixteenth century. 

3. Florentinus (F.), in the Laurentian Lib- 

rary at Florence, sixteenth century. 

4. Parisiensis (P.), sixteenth century. 

5. Casanatensis (C), in the library of the Minerva 

at Rome, qy. fifteenth century, containing 
Epistles of Polycarp and Barnabas. 

6. Barber inus (B.), in the Barberini Library at Rome, 

sixteenth century. 

7. Neapolitanus (N.), a paper MS. of the fifteenth 

century, in the National Library at Naples. 

b. Versions. The oldest MS. of the Latin Version 
is not older than the ninth century. The translation 
into Latin is loose and indicative of corruption in the 

There is no known Syriac version. 


(ii) Of the Letter of the •Smyrnaeans. 

a. MSS. 

1. Mosquensis (M.), thirteenth century, in the Library 

of the Holy Synod at Moscow. Greek. 

2. Baroccianus, of the eleventh century, imperfect : 

in the Bodleian. Greek. 

3. Paris, tenth century. Greek. 

4. Vindobonensis, twelfth century, at Vienna. Greek. 

5. Jerusalem, tenth century. Greek. 

b. Versions. 
Latin, various. See Harnack, Die Zeitdes Ignatius^ 
pp. 77, et sef,, and Ligbtfoot, Apos/. Fathers^ II. iii. 

P- 358- 

There is a Syriac version in the British Museum, 
and a Coptic in the Vatican, both being derived from 
Eusebiua, and not from the actual Letter. 





Bmperon of Rome. 





c. 99 

<r. 100 
c. HO 

^. 150 



Nero Imp. 

Galba Imp. 

Otho, Vitellius 
Veapasian, Imp. 

TUws Imp. 
Domitian Imp. 
Nerva I pi p. 
Trajan Imp. 

Martyrdom of St. 

Capture pf Jem- 

? Birth. 

? Birth. Baptism. 

Hadrian Imp. 
AQtoRiotts Pins 

?Ep. of St. Cle- 

Death of St. Cle 

Death of St. John, 

Martyrdom of St 

Hermas writes the 
** Shepherd." 

Bishop of Smyrna. 
£p, to PhiUppiaps. 

Visit to Rome. 
Martyrdom, Feb. 23. 
Letter of Smyr- 




POLYCARP and the Presbyters that are with 
him ^ to the Church of God that is sojourning * 
at Philippi, mercy to you and peace from Al- 
mighty God and Jesus Christ our Saviour " be 
multiplied" (i Pet. i. 2 ; 2 Pet. i. 2 ; Jude 2). 

* The Bishop associates himself with his presbyters. 
St. Paul, writing to the same Church some forty-eight years 
earlier, salutes the Saints, " with the bishops and deacons," 
" Episcopus " in A.D. 62 being a title used of presbyters ; 
by A.D. no it is confined to the "distinguished men" 
(Clem. Cor, xliv.) who have succeeded the Apostles in the 
special functions of ordaining, confirming, and ruling. So 
Bishop Lightfoot, ** Poly carp evidently writes here as a 
bishop in the later and fuller sense of the title, surrounded 
by his Council of presbyters." 

' Sojourning, The Greek word is first so used by St. 
Clement (C^r.), and became general. The correlative 
substantive /«r^/'^/a originally meant place of sojourning 
for the local Church and bishop, and so was equivalent to 
our diocese. Hence through the Latin parocAia axid the 
French paroisse it passed into our parish. The familiar 
word will remind dwellers in the "parish" that, like 
Abraham (Heb. xi. 9), they "sojourn in a land of 
promise." Cf. note on p. 48. 


I. I rejoiced greatly with you in our Lord 
Jesus Christ on your receiving the copies ^ of the 
true Love, and escorting on their way, as it fell 
to your lot to do,^ the men enwrapped in their 
chains,* seemly ornament of Saints, in that 
they are diadems of them that are truly, chosen 
by God and by our Lord ; * and because the 
firm root of your faith, proclaimed from times of 
old,^ abides unto this present time, and " brings 
forth fruit " (Col. i. 6) unto our Lord Jesus Christ, 

* Counterfeits, in a good sense : the word mimema is 
a correlative of that rendered " followers ^ or " imitators ^ 
in R. V. I Cor. iv. 16; Eph. v. i ; i Thess. i. 6, ii. 14; 
Heb. vi. 12, and i Pet. iii. 13. 

* Bishop Lightfoot translates "as befitted you," but 
this is not quite the force of the word rightly rendered in 
his notes " it pertaineth to you " ; it is the word describ- 
ing the portion of goods that "y^//** to the prodigal 
(Luke XV. 12). 

' Probably Ignatius, Zosimus, and Rufus (of. cap. ix.). 

* The red dragon of the Apocalypse had seven "diadems" 
upon his heads (Rev. xii. 3), and so the beast out of the 
sea (Rev. xiii. i). The Rider on the white horse (Rev. 
xix. 12) had on his head many "diadems." The word 
occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. In Clem. 
Horn. xii. 20, Truth is the " diadem *' of the everlasting 
Kingdom. Cf. Hermas, Mand, xii. 25, for the " crowning." 
"Nothing in this exordium is commonplace" (Taylor). 

* /. e. from the earliest days of the spread of the Gospel. 
— Cf. Phil. iv. 15, and chap. vii. p. 39. " This excellent 
summary of faith," i, e. Acts xvi. 31, " we find also but with 
a very little paraphrase propounded as sufficient by St. 


Who endured to come so far a3 to death for our 
sins, Whom God raised, " haviDg looked fhe paini 6t 
iiehtk" (Acts ii. 24), in "whom, not having sc^en, 
ye " trust " with joy unspeakable and fall of glor^'^ 
(1 Pet. L 8). Into this joy many long to enter, 
knowing that ^ " by grace ye are saved," " not of 
works " (Eph. ii. 5, 8, 9), but by God's will through 
JesuS Christ. 

II. Therefore '*Oird up" your '4oitts" (t Pet 
i; 15) and « selrve " God " m fbiw " (Ps. iL 11) and 
truth; leave the vain talking ^ and the error of 
the many ; " trust in God Who raised " our Lord 
Jesus Christ " from the dead, and gave Him glory '* 
(i Pet. i. 21) and a Throne on His right hand ; 
to Whom were subjected all things in heaven 
and on earth ^; Whom "everything that hath 
breath " * (Ps. cl. 6) serves ; Who is coming as 
" Judge of quiok and dead " (Acts x. 42) ; Whose 
biood God will require of them that disobey 
Him* But He that raised Him from the dead 

Polycarp in that fexcellenfc epistle of his to the Philip- 
pians.'*— Jer. Taylor, Duct. Dub, ii. 3, § 67. 

* Bishop Lightfoot points out that by this phrase Poly- 
carp sefenls to introduce quotations. Cf. chapters iv. v. vi. 

2 the ot-igihai is rendered in 1 Tim. i. 6 in A. V. " vain 
jangling," and in R. V. as above. 

^ Cf. I Cor. XV. 28 ; Phil. ii. 10, and iii. 21. 

* Cf. I Kings XV. 29, LXX. 


will raise us also/ if we do His will and walk 
in His commandments, and love what He 
loved, holding off from all unrighteousnessj 
covetousness, love of money ,2 backbiting, false 
witness, " not rendering evil for evil or rfitiling for 
tailing" (i Pet. iii. 9), or cuff» for cuff, or curse 
for curse, remembering what the Lord saidj 
teaching "Judge not, thai ye be liot judged" 
(Matt. vii. i) ; forgive and it shall be forgiven 
unto you ; be ye merciful, that ye be shewn 
mercy ; ^ '' With what measure ye mete it shall be 
measured to you ag^dn" (Matt. Vii. 2); and 
" Blessed are the poor " (Matt. v. 3) and they that 
are being *' persecuted for righteousness sake, 
for theirs is the kingdom of God *'^ (Matt. v. 10). 
III. Not, brethren, in concession to my own 

^ Cf. 2 Cor. iv. 14. 

2 The original occurs in the New Testament only ih 
I Tim. vi. 10. 

^ The original (ypovOos) is a late word foryfj/, and so a 
blow with the fist. 

* These charges do not verbally tally with the canoni- 
cal gospels, but convey the sense of Matt. vi. 14, and Luke 
vi. 36, though the word rendered " merciful " is not the 
same as Polycarp's. They may preserve sayings not 
recorded in Scripture. 

^ In Matt. V. 10 our Lord uses the perfect tense, Blessed 
are they which Aave been persecuted, as in Revised Ver- 
sion. The blessing comes after the faithful endurance of 
persecution. Polycarp's present tense conveys his thought 


inclination, but because you challenged me,^ am 
I writing to you concerning righteousness. For 
neither have I nor has any other like me ability to 
follow hard on the wisdom ^ of the blessed and 
glorious Paul, who, when he had come among you, 
in the presence of them of that time,^ taught ac- 
curately and constantly the word of truth * and, 
when absent,^ wrote to you letters,® into which if 
you examine carefully you will be enabled to be 

of a blessing even in persecution. Observe the omission 
of "in spirit " after "poor," and the substitution of " God " 
for "heaven " as in Luke vi. 20. " In selecting these two 
beatitudes Polycarp is guided by the fact that to these 
two alone the promise of the kingdom of heaven is 
attached " (Bishop Lightfoot). 

^ Polycarp would have been too modest to exhort the 
Philippians had they not asked for his exhortation. The 
reading trpotnaeaXeoaOi, challenged, is supported by the 
Latin provocastts, and is unobjectionable Greek. There 
is MS. authority for vpotTtiXaKiaaOty literally, bespattered 
with mud, or reproached, a dubious grammatical form. 

2 The Philippians have a pie-eminent counsellor in 
St. Paul. Cf. 2 Pet. iii. 15. 

8 /. e. A.D. 52. 

^ Lit. the word concerning truth ; /. e. the true doctrine. 

fi Cf. 2 Cor. X. I. 

® The plural may indicate an impression on Poly carp's 
part that the Philippians were in possession of more than 
one letter from St. Paul addressed to their Church. But 
the use of the plural to designate a single letter is not 
infrequent, e.g. Eurip. LA. in. 


built Up into the faith given to you, *^ which is 
the Motiier of us all " ^ (Gal. iv. 26), with hope fol- 
lowing after, and love towards God and Christ 
and our neighbour going before.^ For if any one 
be surrounded by, and occupied in,^ these, he 
hath fulfilled (Rom. xiii. 8 and Gal. v. 14) the 
cdrtimandment of righteousness. For he that 
hath love is far from all sin.* 

IV. Now love of money is the beginning of 
all difficulties.^ Knowing ® then that " we bronght 
nothing into the world'' and ''neither can we carry 
anything out" (i Tim. vi. 7), let us arm our- 
selves with " the arms of righteousness"^ (2 Cor. vi. 
7), and teach ourselves first to walk in the 

* The coincidence may be merely verbal and fortuitous. 
Jacobson, Lightfoot and others quote The Martyrdom of 
Justin^ § iv., " Our true Father is the Christ, and our 
mother our faith in Him." Cf. Hermas, Vis, viii. 2-6, 
where Faith is mother and ancestress of Virtues. 

2 /. e, before Hope. After Faith comes Hope preceded 
by Charity. Faith begets Charity or Love, and Hope 
follows. Cf. I Thess. i. 3 and Col. i. 4, 5. In i Cor. xiii. 13 
Charity comes last as being the permanent survivor of the 
Great Three. 

* Lit. "be within these." Bishop Lightfoot compares 
Plutarch, Vit. Horn. 6, " within," /. e. " occupied in every 
science and art." Cf. Horace's " totus in illis," Sat. i. ix. i. 

* Cf. Rom. xiii, 10. ^ Cf. i Tim. vi. 10. 
^ Cf. p. 30, note. 

7 Cf Rom. vi. 1 3, where our members are to be " in- 
struments " or " weapons " (R. V. marg.) of righteousness. 



commandment of the Lord ; next also your 
wives, in the faith given unto them, and in love 
and in chastity, cherishing ^ their own husbands 
in all truth,^ and loving all men alike in all con- 
tinency, to train up their children too in the 
training of the fear of the Lord. [Let us teach] 
the widows too to be temperate ' concerning the 
faith of the Lord, making supplication unceas- 
ingly for all, being far removed from all calumny, 
backbiting, false witness, love of money, and 
every evil ; knowing that they are God's Altar,* 

* The original word does not occur in the New 
Testament, but is frequent in classical Greek for family 
affection. Cf. Clem. Cor. i. 

2 /. e. with true, faithful affection. 

3 " Their religion must not be a frenzy of fanaticism, 
but a calm confidence" (Lightfoot). Cf. i Tim. iii. ii 
and V. 5. 

* The word in the original, thysiasterion ( = place of 
sacrifice, whether bloody or unbloody), is the regular 
LXX. and New Testament term for the altar used in 
the worship of Jehovah. Its more extended use in the 
literature of the Church begins with the famous passage 
in Heb. xiii. 10, " we have an altar." Bishop Lightfoot 
compares Tertullian ad Ux. i. 7 : " Cum viduam adlegi 
in ordinem, nisi univiram, non concedat ; aram enim 
Dei mundam proponi oportet." For figurative uses of 
the word in the Ignatian letters, see Eph, 5, Mag, 7, 
Trail. 7, Rotn. 2, and Philad. 4. " They themselves are 
the altar ; their thoughts, words, and deeds, more especi- 
ally their prayers, are the sacrifices offered " (Lightfoot). 
Cf also Introduction, pp. 8, 14. 


and that all things are examined to see if there 
be blemish in them, and that there is hid from 
Him nor thought nor intention nor any of "the 
secrets of our heart'' (i Cor. xiv. 25). 

V. Knowing ^ then that " God is not mocked " 
(Gal. vi. 7), we ought to walk worthily of His 
commandment and glory.^ In like manner 
should the deacons be blameless before His 
righteousness, as deacons of God and Christ, 
and not of men ; not slanderers, not double- 
tongued,^ not lovers of money, continent in all 
things, tender-hearted,* careful, walking accord- 
ing to the truth of the Lord, Who was made 
" deacon " ^ of all. To Him if we be well pleas- 
ing in this present world we shall also receive 
as our reward the world to come, in accordance 
with His promise to us to raise us from the 
dead, and because, if our conversation® be 
worthy of Him, " we shall also reign with Him " '' 

* Cf. note on p. 36. 

* Cf. I Thess. ii. 12, and Herm. Vis, i. and iii. 

' Bishop Lightfoot prefers "tale-bearers." Cf. i Tim. 
iii. I— 13. 

* Cf. Eph. iv. 32, and Hennas, Sim, ix. 24, 2. 

^ The paronomasia is lost in the rendering "minister" 
or " servant." Cf. Matt. xx. 28, and Mark ix. 35. 

« Phil. i. 27 ; cf. Clem. Cor. 21. 

^ St. Paul here seems to have quoted some primitive 
hynm or formula. Cf. Alford in loc. i Tim. iii. 16 may 
be another such citation. 


(^ Tim. ii. 12), if indeed we believe. In like 
manner let the younger men be blameless in 
all things, above everything taking heed for 
purity, bridling^ themselves from every evil. 
For it is good to be checked from following* 
the lusts in the world, for every lust warreth 
against the Spirit,^ and "neither fomieators nor 
effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind 
shall inherit the kingdom of Ood " (i Cor. vi. 9, to)i 
nor they that do iniquity. Wherefore they are 
bound to abstain from all these things, being 
subject to the presbyters and deacons * as to God 
and Christ. And the virgins must walk in a 
blameless and pure conscience. 

VI. And that the presbyters be tendef- 

* Cf. Jas. i. 26, iii. 2. 

2 Cf. Gal. V. 7 ; the word rendered " hinder." 

^ Cf. I John ii. 15, 16 ; i Pet. ii. 11, and Gal. v. if. 

* Bishop Lightfoot contrasts Ign. Mag. vi. where thfe 
supreme authority is vested in the Bishop. "Either, 
therefore, there was no Bishop at Philippi when Polycarp 
wrote, or Polycarp did not think fit to separate his claims to 
allegiance from this of the presbyters." Yet if the moral 
conduct of the younger men came naturally more imme- 
diately under the supervision of the presbyters Polycarp 
might as naturally recommend obedience to them ; omis- 
sion of mention of the Bishop would tell as little for or 
against the presence of a Bishop at Philippi as a similar 
admonition to the young men of London would prove or 
disprove the existence of a Bishop of London. 


hearted,^ compassionate to all, turning home- 
ward the strayed sheep, visiting all that are 
sick, not neglecting widow or orphan or poor 
man, but providing ever what is good before 
God and man,^ abstaining from all wrath, respect 
of persons, unjust judgment, being far removed 
from all love of money, not quickly believing 
anything against any one, not hasty in judg- 
ment, knowing that we are all debtors of sin.^ 
If then we ask of the Lord to forgive us, we 
ought also to forgive.* For we are before the 
eyes of the Lord and God, and we mu§t "all 
stand before the judgment seatof Ohrist"^(Rom. xiv. 
lo), and give each an account for himself.® Thus 
then let us serve Him with fear and reverence ^ as 
He Himself charged us, and the Apostles who 
evangelized us ^ and the prophets who preached 
beforehand the coming of our Lord, zealous 

* Cf. note on § V. * Cf. 2 Cor. viii. 21. 

• "The meaning seems to be, we have contracted 
obligations of sin. Cf. Rom. iii. 9" (Lightfoot). The 
phrase "knowing that'* may indicate a quotation. Cf. 
note on p. 30. * Cf. Matt. vi. 12, 14, 15. 

^ R. V. follows the reading " of God " with the over- 
whelming support of A, B, C^ D, E, F, G, Polycarp may 
rather have in mind 2 Cor. v. 10. 

• Cf. Rom. xiv. 12. ' Cf. Heb. xii. 28. 

* On the direct instruction of Polycarp by St. John and 
his being established by apostolic authority in Smyrna, 
see Introduction, p. 11. 


for what is good,^ abstaining from things which 
make to offend,, and from false brethren and 
from them that bear the name of the Lord in 
hypocrisy,* who make vain men to ctx. 

VII. "For every one that oonfesseth not that 
Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is anti-Christ " ^ 
(i John iv. 3). And whosoever confesseth not 
the witness of the Cross is of the devil,* and 
whosoever perverts the oracles of the Lord ^ to 

1 Cf. I Pet. iii. 13, R. V., and Tit. ii. 14. 

* Cf. I Tim. iv. 2 ; and Hermas, Sim. ix. 13, 2. 

' ThQ verbal difference is so slight that this might be 
taken as a direct quotation ; at the same time it will be 
remembered that Polycarp was steeped in the verbal 
teaching of St. John, and this was no doubt an oft re- 
peated saying._ Belief in the incarnation is the "arti- 
cuius" not only "stantis vel cadentis ecclesiae," but of 
the state of the individual, and this whether its denial 
appear in the docetism of the sub-apostolic age, or 
in the humanitarianism of the nineteenth century. 

* The witness of the Cross is probably the witness or 
testimony borne by the Cross, i, e, the evidence furnished 
by the incidents of the Passion. " Perhaps it refers especi- 
ally to the piercing of the side, and the issue of the blood 
and water (John xix. 34) as a proof of the reality of Christ's 
crucified body " (Lightfoot). Cf. also i John iii. 8. 

* The word translated oracles^ i.e. logia, occurs four times 
in Scripture. In Acts vii. 38 St. Stephen speaks of 
Moses receiving " lively oracles," the living words of the 
Decalogue. In Rom. iii. 2 the Jews are said to have 
been entrusted with the oracles or words of God. In 
Heb. V, 12 they "have need that oAe teach them again 


his own lusts, and says that there is neither 
resurrection nor judgment, this man is the first 
begotten of Satan.^ Wherefore let us leave the 
vanity 2 of the many, and their false teaching, 
and let us turn to the word delivered to us from 

the first principles of the oracles of God," and St. 
Peter in i Pet. iv. 11, writes — " If any speak let it be as 
the oracles of God." None of these instances bear out 
the restricted meaning which has been attached to the 
word by those who understand the work of Papias men- 
tioned by Eusebius {Ecc, Hist, iii. 39) to be an exegesis 
not of the Gospels but of bare sayings of our Lord, and 
has become popularised by the publication in 1897 of the 
fragments of sayings of Jesus discovered at Oxyrhynchus 
under the title "Logia.*' Bishop Lightfoot remarks that 
"it was natural that Polycarp, who had conversed with 
Apostles and personal disciples of Christ, should, like 
Papias, refer to our Lord's discourses as Logia, which 
might include oral traditions.'* But there is no strong 
reason for supposing that Logia is not used by Polycarp 
in the wider and more general sense of Gospel teaching. 
On the usage and meaning of the word cf. my note on 
Theodoret, Ecc. Hist, p. 155, and Dr. Salmon's Introduc- 
tion to the study of the New Testament, p. 95, et seg. 

* The expression said by Irenaeus to be used by 
Polycarp of Marcion (Irenaeus, Har, iii. 3, and Euseb. 
Hist. Ecc, iii. 39). Cf. pp. 9, 10. 

* The word occurs in Rom. viii. 20, Eph. iv. 17, and 2 
Pet. ii. 18, and is the Greek of the LXX. for the familiar 
** Vanity of vanities " of Ecc, and has been popularised 
in Thackeray's ^^ mataiotes tnataioteton^'* in the poem 
* Vanitas Vanitatum.' 


the beginning/ "watching unto prayer"^ (i Pet. 
iv. 7), continuing in fastings, in supplications 
asking the all-seeing God ^ not to " lead us into 
temptation " (Matt. vi. 13; Luke xi. 4), as the 
Lord said, " The Spirit indeed is willing, but the 
flesh is weak " * (Matt. xxvi. 41 and Mark xiv. 38). 
VIII. Unfailingly then let us continue in our 
hope, and in the pledge^ of our righteousness, 
which is Christ Jesus, " Who bare our sins in His 

^ i,e. the "faith once delivered to the Saints" of 
Jude 3 (cf. chap. i. p. 29). Already the Church is con* 
fronted with the two notions of development which have 
been from time to time among her main difficulties s 
(i) the suggestion from without that the Catholic Faith 
is only the development of a legend, (ii) the suggestion 
from within that grotesque accretions are the natural 
development of healthy growth. 

^ Though the present participle is substituted for the 
i. Aor. Imperative, and we have a slight variation Iq the 
phrase, this may be reckoned as a quotation. The verb 
in the original means to "be sober," and the word 
rendered in A. V. " Be ye sober," to be temperate ; R. V. 
" Be ye therefore of sound mind, and be sober unto 

^ Cf. Clem. Cor. §§ Iv. and Ixiv. 

* Observe the connection in the mind of the writer 
between the clause of the Lord's Prayer, and the end 
urged for prayer in Matt. xxvi. 41. Cf. Hermas, Vis, iii. 10. 

^ Cf. 2 Cor. i. 22 and v. 5, and Eph. i. 14. The original 
word arrabon represents the Hebrew of Gen. xxxviii. 17, 
18, and passed into Latin as arrabo and arra^ meaning a 
sum paid down as earnest of the completion of a bargain. 


own^body on the tree*' (i Pet. ii. 24), *'Who did 
no sin, neither was guile founS in His mouth *' 
(i Pet. ii. 22), but on our account, that we may 
live in Him who endured all things. Let us then 
become imitators of His patience, and if we be 
suffering on account of His name, let us glorify 
Him.? For this example ^ He appointed for us 
through Himself,* and this was the profession of 
our faith. 

IX. I therefore call on you all to obey the 
"word of righteousness" (Heb.v. 13) and to practise 
all patience. This patience you saw face to face 
not only in the blessed Ignatius and Zosimus 
and Rufus,^ but also in others of your own 

It survives in the French " arrhes " and the Scotch " arles^ 
Chrisfs victory over sin and death are as it were the 
pledge and earnest of the victory of redeemed humanity. 

^ An infinitesimally small variation here. 

2 Hennas, Sim. ix. 28, 5, "And you who suffer for 
His name's sake ought to glorify God ;" and Sim. vi. 3, 6, 
" They glorify God in that they were delivered unto me 
and suffer no longer anything of the evil." Cf. i Pet. iv. 

^ The word in i Pet. ii. 21, used only there in the New 
Testament. Cf. Clem, ad Cor. v. adfinem. 

* "In His own person," Lightfoot, i.e. by means of 
what He was and did. 

^ Cf. Cap. I. Probably the chained prisoners men- 
tioned there as escorted by the Philippians on the way to 
Rome. It has been conjectured that Zosimus and Rufus 
may have been among the Bithynian Christians sent by 


folk,^ and in Paul himself and the rest of the 

1 call upon you as men persuaded that ihese 
did not "run in vain" (Phil. ii. i6) but in faith 
and righteousness, and that they are in the place 
due to them 2 by the side of the Lord, Whose suffer- 
ings they shared.^ For they did not " love this 
present world " (2 Tim. iv. 10), but Him Who 
on our behalf died, and on our account by* 
God^ was raised. 

X. In these things then stand, following the 
example of the Lord, " steadfast" (i Cor. xv. 58) 
in the faith and " nnmovable," " kindly affectioned 
one to another with brotherly love " ® (Rom. xii. 10), 

Pliny to Rome. Pliny, Ep, 97, Zahn, Ignatius ofAniioch^ 
p. 292, Lightfoot in loc, " The Rufus of Polycarp is pos- 
sibly the same who is mentioned in Rom. xvi. 13, and this 
latter again may, with some degree of probability, be 
identified with the son of Simon of Cyrene (Mark xv. 21); 
but the name is not rare " (Lightfoot). 

^ On early persecutions at Philippi cf. Phil. i. 7, 28, 


2 Cf Clem, ad Cor. v., and for "with the Lord" Phil, 
i. 23. 

3 Cf Rom. viii. 17. 

* Here the Greek MSS. fail, and the text is supplied 
from Lat. translations and from quotations in Eusebius. 

* Cf. Ignat. Rom, vi. 

® Of course a conjecture, though almost certain con- 
jecture, of quotation : the Lat. is ** fraternitatis amatores 
diligentes invicem." 


partners in the truth, forestalling one another in 
the gentleness of the Lord, despising no one. 
While you are able to do good ^ put it not off, 
because " Almsgiying delivereth from death " (Tobit 
iv. 10 ; xii. 9). '* All of you be subjeot one to 
another " (i Pet. v. 5), " having your conversation ** 
blameless " among the Gentiles, in order that from 
your good works" (i Pet. ii. 12) both you may 
receive praise, and your Lord may not be blas- 
phemed in you. But woe unto him by whom 
the name of the Lord is blasphemed. Teach 
therefore all men temperance, in which you your- 
selves have your conversation. 

XL I have been much distressed for Valens,^ 
who was once upon a time made a Presbyter 
among you, that he should be so ignorant of the 
place ^ assigned him. I exhort you therefore 
that ye abstain from covetousness, and that ye 
be chaste and true. " Abstain from every evil " 
(i Thess. V. 22). How can he who is not able 

* Cf. Prov. iii. 28. 

* " The name Valens seems to have been common at 
Philippi. It is found not less than four times on the 
tablets of one Latin inscription at this place. Corp. Insc. 
Lat, iii. 633" (Lightfoot). 

* Locus, equivalent to the Greek topos^ according to 
Lightfoot having the sense of office. Cf. Acts i. 25, 
where the better reading is ^^ place of ministry." Wake 
renders " the place given him in the Church,^* 


to rule himself in these things preach this 
to another? If any man have not abstained 
from covetousness he shall be defiled by idolatry 
and judged among the Gentiles, who have not 
known the judgment of the Lord,i or do we not 
know that ''the saints sliall judge the world" 
(i Cor. vi. 2), as Paul teacheth? Not that I 
have perceived or heard of anything of this kind 
in you among whom the blessed Paul laboured 
and who were in the beginning *^ his " epistles " 
(2 Cor. iii. 2). Concerning you he boasts in all 
the Churches' which alone in those days had 
known the Lord : for we had not yet known 
Him.* Deeply, brethren, am I grieved for him 

1 Cf. Jer. V. 4. 

^ The Latin is " qui estis in principio epistulae ejus.** 
But this is almost certainly an error in translating the 
vague participial form of the Greek. Cf Lightfoot in loc. 
For "the beginning" in the sense of the earliest days of 
the Gospel cf i. and note. Cf also Phil. iv. 15. 

8 Cf 2 Thess. i. 4. 

* i.e. Smyrna contained no Christians in A.D. 52, when 
the Church of Philippi was founded, or in A.D. 53, when 
the second Thessalonian Letter was written. **A few 
years later, however (Rev. ii. 8), there was an important 
Church there. Probably the conversion of Smyrna, as of 
Colossae, was an indirect consequence of St. Paul's long 
sojourn at Ephesus. Cf Acts xix. 10, 26'' (Lightfoot). If 
we take a.d. 155 as the date of Polycarp's martyrdom, his 
own reckoning {PoL Mart, ix.) will give 69 as a date by 
which there was a Church in Smyrna. 


and for his wife. The Lord grant them genuine 
repentance.^ Be ye too, thereforej moderate in 
this matter, and "count not" folk of this sort as 
"enemies '' (aThess.iii. 15), but call them back as 
weak ^ and wandering members, that you may 
keep whole the body of you all,* for thus doing 
ye edify yourselves. 

XII. For I am assured that you are well 
trained in the Holy Scriptures, and that nothing 
has escaped your attention. This has not been 
granted to me.* Only, as is said in these Scrip- 
tures, " Be ye angry and sin not " (Ps. iv. 4, LXX), 
and " Let not the sun go down on your wrath"^ 
(Eph. iv. 26). 

Happy is he who remembers, as I believe you 
do. But God and the Father of our Lord Jesus 
Christ and the Eternal High Priest^ Himself, 

1 Cf. 2 Tim. ii. 25. 

2 Lat. passibilia= Grk. patheta, applied in a different 
sense to Christ in Acts xxvi. 23. 

3 Cf. I Cor. xii. 26. 

* Polycarp has a modest estimate of his own knowledge 
of the Scriptures. Yet his short letter shows considerable 
acquaintance with them. 

* Here both Old and New Testaments together are ap- 
parently quoted as Scripture, though it may be contended 
that the term applies only to the verse cited by St. Paul 
from the Psalms. 

® Cf. Pol, Mart xiv. and the note there. 


Jesus Christ the Son of God/ edify you in 
faith and truth and in all gentleness and meek- 
ness ; in forbearance, in long - suflTering, in 
patience, in purity ; may He grant you part and 
lot among His Saints, and to us with you, and 
to all under heaven which are ordained to 
believe in our Lord and God Jesus Christ, and 
in His Father *' who raised Him from the dead " 
(Gal. i. i; Col. ii. 12). "Pray for aU Saint»" 
(Eph. VI. 18). Pray also for kings and for 
powers and rulers,^ and "for them that perse- 
cute " and hate " you " (Matt. v. 44), and for the 
''enemies of the Cross" (Phil. iii. 18), that your 
fruit may be manifest in all,^ that ye may be 
perfect in Him. 

Xni. Both you and Ignatius have written 
to me that, if any one go to Syria,* he is to con- 

* So the Latin Deifilius, Lightfoot, however, gives in 
his Greek version the Greek equivalent not of " Son of 
God," but of " God," following quotations in Timotheus 
^lurus and Severus of Antioch, and the analogy of the 
reading " God was manifest in the flesh *' in i Tim. iii. 
16 and "the only begotten God" in John i. 18. 

2 I Tim. ii. i. 

^ Cf. John XV. 16 and i Tim. iv. 15. 

* " There is no direct charge in the letter of Ignatius to 
Polycarp that the Smymaean messenger should carry the 
letter of the Philippians to Syria. If, therefore, Polycarp 
has used a rigidly accurate expression here, it will be 
necessary to suppose that Ignatius had written other 


vey the letter also from you. I shall carry out 
your wish, if I find a favourable opportunity; 
whether I go myself, or find some one to act the 
envoy also for you. The letters^ of Ignatius 
sent to- us by him, and all the rest which we had 
by us, we have sent to you, as you enjoined. 
They are attached to this letter. From them 
you will be able to be greatly benefited, for they 
embrace faith, patience, and every kind of edifi- 
cation which regards our Lord. If ye have any 
more certain knowledge concerning Ignatius 
himself, and those with him, inform us. 

XIV. This letter I have written you by 
Crescens,^ whom I but now commended to you,. 

instructions (no longer extant) to Polycarp — probably a 
few lines by way of postscript to the letter of the Philip- 
pians. We may observe, however, (i) that Polycarp does 
not separate the instructions of the Philippians from those 
of Ignatius, but masses them together; and (2) that 
Ignatius, writing to Polycarp, does charge him generally 
to place in the hands of the Smymaean delegate the 
letters of divers Churches which were not able to send 
messengers of their own. Polycarp, therefore, writing 
loosely, might very naturally infuse the instructions of 
Ignatius into the request of the Philippians, as applying 
indirectly to them, though not immediately referring to 

* On the use of the plural for a single letter cf note 
on chap. iii. p. 32. 

^ Crescens may have been amanuensis, carrier, or 
both. For the name cf. 2 Tim. iv. 10. 


and am still commending ; for his conversation 
with us was blameless, and so I believe ^ was his 
conversation with you. His sister you shall 
have commended to you when she comes to you. 
Fare ye well in the Lord Jesus Christ, in 
grace, with all yours. Amen. 

1 Cf. 2 Tim. i. 5. 




The Church of God sojourning at Smyrna to 
the Church of God sojourning ^ at Philomelium,^ 
and to all the dioceses ^ of the Holy Catholic 
Church* in every place, mercy and peace and 
love of God the Father and of our Lord Jesus 
Christ be multiplied.^ 

* Cf. the Salutation of the Letter of Polycarp. 

2 Identified by Hamilton with the modem Akshehr, a 
place in the plain to the north of the range north of the 
Pisidian Antioch. Cf. Ramsay, Hist, Geog, A. M, p. 140. 
A Bishop of Philomelium appears at the Council of Con- 
stantinople in 381, but between this and the date of the 
Letter there is no mention of it in Christian literature. 

* Orig. "parishes." This Lightfoot translates "brother- 
hoods " and Wake " assemblies.'* Neither gives the force 
of the word, which means " place or condition of sojourn- 
ing"; wherever a Christian Church "sojourned", there 
was 2ipar<£cia or diocese. Cf. note on Letter of Polycarp, 
p. 28. 

* Cf. Ignat. ad Smym, viii., which is the earliest dated 
document in which the phrase Catholic Church appears. 
Cf. p. 20. 

* Cf. note on Salutation of the Letter of Polycarp. 



I. We write to you, brethren, the events 
which befell them that suffered martyrdom, and 
the blessed Polycarp, who, as it were, by his 
martyrdom set his seal upon the persecution,^ 
and put an end to it. For nearly all the pre- 
ceding events came to pass in order that to 
us the Lord might once again give an example of 
the martyrdom which resembles the Gospel 

For he waited that he might be betrayed, just 
as was the Lord, to the end that we too may 
become imitators of Him, regarding not only 
what concerns ourselves but also what concerns 
our neighbours.^ 

For it is the part of true and constant love 
that a man should wish not only himself, but 
also all the brethren, to be saved. 

IL Now blessed and noble* were all the 
martyrdoms which took place in accordance 
with the will of God ; for we are bound to be 
very reverent and to ascribe the power aver all 
things to God. And who could fail to marvel 

* i. e, the persecution at Smyrna involving the death 
of Germanicus, Quintus, nine nameless victims, and 

2 i, e. nearly all the circumstances of Polycarp^s appre- 
hension corresponded with those of the Lord's Passion. 
8 Cf. Phil. ii. 4. 

* Cf. Clem, ad Cor, v. ; Mart. Jg, ii. and vii. 


at theiE nobility, their endurance, their love for 
their Master? Some were so torn by the 
scourges ^ that the structure of their flesh to the 
inner veins and arteries was exposed to view ; 
but they endured it, so that even the bystanders 
were moved to pity and lamentation. Some 
reached such a pitch of noble endurance that 
not one of tjiem let cry or groan escape him, 
while they showed to us all that tortured as they 
were 5^t that time Christ's martyrs were absent 
from the flesh ^ ; or rather that standing by their 
side their Lord was in close converse with them. 
So, giving heed to the grace of Christ, they were 
despising the torments of the world, redeeming 
themselves at the cost of one short season from 
everlasting punishment Cold to them was the 
fire of the inhuman tormentors ; for they kept 
before their eyes their escape from the fire that 
is everlasting and is never quenched, while with 
the eyes of the heart they looked up at the good 
things reserved for them that have endured, 
which " neither ear hath heard nor eye seen, neither 

* On the "horribile flagellum" of Roman torture cf. 
Horace, So/, I. iii. 119. The scourge was occasionally 
fatal in its application. The verb translated "tojn" 
means literally " thoroughly carded." For its use of in- 
jurious violence to the human body cf. Eurip. Supp» 

2 Cf. 2 Cor. V. 6. 


have entered into the hearts of man " (i Cor. ii. 9; 
slightly varied), but were being shown by the 
Lord to those who were now already no longer 
men but angels. In like manner they that were 
condemned to the beasts underwent awful pun- 
ishments, being made to lie on prickly shells^ 
and buffeted,^ with various other forms of torture, 
to the end that, if it were possible, by means of 
their protracted punishment they might be 
turned to denial by him who was devising so 
many wiles against them — the devil. 

III. But thanks be to God, for He verily 
prevailed against all.* For the right noble 

* Lit. "heralds," or ** trumpeters," KijpvK being the 
Greek name for a mollusc, Lat. the " buccinum^^ which 
was used as a means of torture. Eusebius in his narrative 
of the martyrdom adds the explanation ^^ heralds out of 
the sea^ " Sea-shells, potsherds and the like, appear not 
unfrequently as instruments of torture in the accounts of 
martyrdoms : Act, S. Vincent, 7 ; Act, Tarach, Prob, etc, 
3 ; B, Felicis Con/, Vit, in Bedae, Op. v. 790, ed. Migne " 

2 Cf. I Pet. ii. 20, as well as i Cor. iv. 11, and 2 Cor. 
xii. 7. 

' So Lightfoot, in accordance with the Latin "Gratia 
domino nostro Jesu Christo qui contra omnes fidus servor- 
um suorum defensor adsistit," and correcting the Greek 
owi:,* not/ into o5f , * verily.' An alternative reading would 
he to make the devil the subject of prevail, and to render 
for he did not prevail against all ; i, e, he only prevailed 
against one, Quintus turned renegade. 


Germanicus^ by means of his endurance, turned 
their cowardice into courage. With signal dis- 
tinction did he fight against the beasts. While 
the Proconsul,^ wishful to persuade him, was 
urging him to have compassion on his youth, 
in his eagerness to be released the sooner from 
their unrighteous and careless mode of life he 
used force to the wild beast and pulled it on 
himself. Now it was on this that all the multi- 
tude, amazed at the noble conduct of the 
Godbeloved and Godfearing race of the Chris- 
tians, shouted out, "Away with the Atheists. 
Let search be made for Polycarp." 

IV. But one of them, Quintus by name, a 
Phrygian,* lately arrived from his native 

^ He is traditionally " the boy " Germanicus, cf. Euse- 
bius {Hist» Ecc, iv. 155), and Lightfoot, "the brave youth.'* 
I do not know of any authority for this except the phrase 
of Eusebius ; for the word r/Xicia, the term in the text of 
the original for that which Germanicus should pity, ren- 
dered by Lightfoot youths might as well mean old age, 
and is so used of Polycarp himself in chap. vii. The 
Latin represents it by cetas, which is equally indeterminate, 
but more likely to stand for age than for youth. 

2 For the official title of Acts xiii. 7, 8, 12 ; xix. 38, c/. 
chap, xxi., where the name is given as Statins Quadratus, 

3 The Phrygians were proverbially cowards. So Ter- 
tuUian, de Anim, xx. " Comici Phrygas timidos illudunt,*' 
and the proverb " more cowardly than a Phrygian hare." 
Strab. L ii. 30. 


province, when he saw the beasts, was afraid. 
It was he who had forced both himself and cer- 
tain others to come forward of their own accord. 
After very earnest entreaty he had been per- 
suaded by the Proconsul to take the oath and 
offer incense. Now, brethren, we do not com- 
mend those who surrender themselves, for not 
such is the teaching of the Gospel.^ 

V. Now the most admirable Polycarp so soon 
as he heard [that he was being sought for] at 
first showed no dismay, but wished to remain in 
town. The majority, however, prevailed on him 
to withdraw. And withdraw he did, to a little 
estate ^ not far from the city. There he spent 
his time with a few companions, occupied night 
and day in nothing but prayer for all men^ and 
for the Churches throughout the world,' as indeed 

* Cf. Matt. X. 23 ; John vii. 30 ; viii. 59 ; x. 39. Lightfoot 
quotes Zahn, ** A communi priscae ecclesiae sententia Ter- 
tuUianus recessit cum fugiendum in persecutione non esse 
studeret demonstrare." TertuUian's view was that our 
Lord made only a special concession for special times 
(de Fuga^ 4). On the general opinion of the early Church 
cf. Greg. Naz. Orat. !.; and Athanasius, ApoL de Fuga, 

2 Probably his own property. The natural inference 
from the narrative is that the property and slaves were 
his own. "This supposition at all events agrees with 
the old story that he possessed considerable property" 

» a, Voh ad Philip, y'l. 


was his constant habit. And while praying 
he fell into a trance three days before his 
apprehension, and he saw his pillows being 
burned by fire. And he turned and said to 
them that were with him, " I must needs be 
burned alive." 

VI. Now his pursuers were persistent, so he 
shifted his quarters to another farm. Then 
straightway the pursuers arrived on the spot 
and, on failing to find him, they seized two slave- 
boys. One of these confessed under torture; 
for indeed it was impossible for him to evade 
pursuit, since they that betrayed him were of 
his own household. And the head of the 
police,^ who, as it befell, bore the same name 
[as our Lord's judge], being called Herod, made 
haste to bring him into the stadium, in order 
that he might be made a partner of Christ, and 
so fulfil his own appointed lot, and that his 
betrayers might undergo the punishment of 
Judas himself. 

VII. Accordingly, having the lad with them, 
on Friday at about supper-time forth sallied 

^ Or " Peace magistrate," slpfivapxog. The title appears 
frequently in inscriptions. Vide Lightfoot tn loc.j who 
says, "in some respects *the High-Sheriff' would be a 
nearer equivalent. Our phrase * Justice of the Peace' 
i§ analogous." Cf. * Friedensrichter ' and * Juge de Paix,' 


constables ^ and mounted men, with their usual 
equipment, hurrying as though "against a thief" 
(Matt. xxvi. 55). Late in the day they came 
up together and found him in a cottage lying in 
an upper room. It was within his power to go 
away thence to another place, but he refused to 
do so, saying, " God's will be done." ^ So, on 
hearing of their arrival, he came down and con- 
versed with them^ they all the while wondering 
at his age and his constancy, and at there being 
so much ado about the arrest of such an old 
man. Upon this he gave orders for something 
to be served for them to eat and drink, at that 
hour, as much as they would. He besought 
them withal to give him an hour that he might 
pray freely ; and on their granting him this 
boon he stood up ^ and prayed, being so full of 

^ The word ^iwy/iTra» or duayftiiTai^ literally " pursuers," 
had passed into a technical term for a kind of police. 
So in Amm. MarcelLy xxvii. 9 : " Semiermibus quos 
diocmitas appellant." They were under the orders of 
the eirenarch or justice of the peace. Cf. Lightfoot in loc, 

' Cf. Acts xxi. 14 ; Matt. vi. 10, xxvi. 42 ; Luke xxii. 

« The original is a passive participle =" on being set 
up." Cf. the Pharisee in Luke xviii. 1 1, where a formal 
posture seems to be contrasted with the simpler " stand- 
ing " of the Publican. It is used of our Lord in Luke 
xviii. 40, and of Zaccheus in Luke xix. 8. 


the grace of God, that for the space of two hours 
he could not hold his peace, while the hearers 
were smitten with amazement, and many were 
sorry that they had come after so venerable an 
old man. 

VIII. After remembering all, both small and 
great, high and low, who had ever been brought 
into communication with him, and all the 
Catholic Church throughout the world, at last 
he brought his prayer to an end. The time had 
come for him to depart. They set him on an 
ass ^ and brought him into the city, it being a 
high Sabbath.2 He was met by the eirenarch 
Herodes, and by his father, Nicetes,^ who shifted 
him into their carriage,* and tried to per- 
suade him as they sate by his side, urging, 
" Why, what harm is there in saying Caesar is 

* Possibly a detail recorded because it helped to bear 
out the idea of the martyrdom *' according to the 

' Cf. note on Chap. xxi. p. 72. 

^ " The name occurs more than once in the inscriptions 
at Smyrna, and in the neighbourhood. Corp, Inscr, 
Grcec, 3148, 3359. As it is not a common name until a 
later date, this fact is not without its value " (Light- 

* Kapovxo- = Lat. carruca, a conveyance of ceremony, 
used on State occasions. Cf. Suet. Nero, 30, on Nero's 
luxurious progresses. 


Lord,^ and sacrificing,^ and the rest of it, and so 
saving thyself?" At first he made no reply, 
but, as they were persistent, he said, " I do not 
intend to do what you advise me." On their 
failing to persuade him they began to use 
terrible language and to drag him hurriedly 
down, so that as he was getting down from the 
carriage he grazed his shin. Without turning 
back, as though he had suffered no hurt, he 
fared on with speed, and was conducted to the 
stadium, where there was so great a tumult that 
it was impossible for any one to be heard. 

IX. Now as Polycarp was entering into the 
stadium, there came a voice to him from heaven, 
" Be strong, Polycarp, and play the man." * The 

^ So in the Greek MSS. Eusebius has the vocative 
" Lord Caesar," which is followed by Wake, and so the 
Latin. Of course there was a sense in which Caesar 
might be called Lord with propriety, as TertuUian, Apol, 
xxxiv., " Dicam plane imperatorem dominum, sed more 
communi, sed quando non cogor ut Dominum Dei vice 
dicam," and Donata in the " Passion of the Scillitan 
martyrs " (a.d. i8o), " Honour to Caesar as Caesar, but fear 
to God.'* The singular number here and in Chap. ix. is in 
favour of the martyrdom happening under the sol« sove- 
reignty of a single Emperor. 

* /. e, offering incense. This use of the word illustrates 
the fact that ^vw in Greek, like "sacrifice*' in English, 
does not necessarily mean " kill." 

3 Cf. Josh. i. 6, 7, 9. The incident is cited by Li^htfoot 


Speaker indeed no one saw, but the voice was 
heard by those of our friends who were present. 
Then he was dragged forward, and great was 
the din of them that heard that Polycarp was 
arrested. So he was brought before the Pro- 
consul,^ who asked him if he were the man him- 
self? He assented, and the Proconsul tried to 
persuade him, urging, "Have respect to thine 
old age," and the rest of it, according to the 
customary form, "Swear by the genius* of 
Caesar ; repent ; say, * Away with the Atheists ! ' " 
Then Polycarp looked with a serious counten- 

as a further item in the Gospel parallel. But the voice 
in John xii. 28 was for the assurance of the bystanders, 
not for the encouragement of the Sufferer. The voice in 
the text is hardly miraculous. The words were such as 
might naturally have been used by any brave Christian 
present, and in the deafening disturbance kept up by the 
crowd might easily be thought to come "from heaven." 

^ Cf. note on chap. iii. p. 53. 

2 On this common deification of the reigning Caesar, 
cf. the Baetic inscription quoted by Lightfoot from Corp. 
Inscr. LaL ii. 1963, 1964. "Per Jovem et Divom 
Augustum et Divom Claudium et Divom Vespasianum 
Augustum et Divom Titum Augustum et genium Im- 
peratoris Domitiani Augusti Deosque Penates," also " Sic 
eorum numen vocant, ad imagines supplicant, genium, 
id est daemonem ejus, implorant," Minuc. Felix, xxix.; 
and Origen, C. Celsum^ viii. 65 : "We do not swear by 
the genius of the Emperor.'' 


ance on the multitude of lawless heathen gathered 
in the stadium, and he beckoned with his hand, 
and looked up to heaven with a groan and said, 
" Away with the Atheists." The Proconsul con- 
tinued insisting and saying, " Swear, and I release 
thee; revile the Christ" And Polycarp said, 
" Eighty and six years have I served Him, and 
He hath done me no wrong: how then can I 
blaspheme my King Who saved me?"^ 

X. The Proconsql continuing to persist, and 
to urge, "Swear by the genius of Caesar," he 
answered, "If thou vainly fanciest that I would 
* swear by the genius of Caesar,' as thou sayest, 
pretending that thou art ignorant who I am, 

* No certain inference can be drawn from this passage 
as to the precise age of Polycarp. The Saint must mean 
to reckon his service from his Baptism, and how near 
this was to his birth we do not know. St. Jerome in his 
Life of Hilarion (§ xlv.) makes Hilarion, aged seventy- 
nine (§ xliv.), exclaim, "Egredere anima mea; quid 
dubitas ? Septuaginta prope annis servisti Christo, et 
mortem times?" He was then about ten years old at 
his baptism. If Polycarp was a slave, and not the child 
of Christian parents, baptism at about the same age 
might be probable in his case ; and this is precisely 
the tradition enshrined in the Life by Pionius. The 
little lad bought by the devout lady Callisto, at the 
Ephesian Gate of Smyrna, may well have been about 
ten, and would no doubt have been soon after baptized 
(Vit. Pion. iii.). But this would make him 95 or 96 at 
his death. 


hear plainly that I am a Christian. And if 
thou art willing to learn the doctrine of Christi- 
anity, appoint a day,^ and grant me a hearing." 
The Proconsul said, "Persuade the people." ^ 
Polycarp then said, "Thee, indeed, I should 
have"' deemed worthy of argument, for we have 
been taught to render to authorities and powers 
ordained by God, honour as is mcet,^ so long 
as it does us no harm, but I deem not yon 
multitude worthy of my making my defence to 

XI. The Proconsul said, " I have wild beasts ; 
if thou wilt not change thy mind I will throw 
thee to them." Then he said, "Bid them be 
brought : change of mind from better to worse is 
not a change that we are allowed ; but to change 
from wrong to right is good." Then again said 
the Proconsul to him, "As thou despisest the 

* Cf. the Latin " diem dicere," to grant a trial, and 
I Cor. iv. 3, where " man's judgment " is literally " man's 

2 "It is not clear with what motive the Proconsul 
siays this ; whether (i) like Pilate, with a sincere desire 
to release the prisoner, or (2) as an excuse for his 
execution, knowing such an appeal to be useless" 

' Cf. Rom. xiii. i, and i Pet. ii. 13. 

^ On the uselessness of pleading to the mob cf. Matt, 
vii. 6. 


beasts, unless thou change thy mind, I make thee 
to be destroyed by fire/' Then Polycarp : " Thou 
threatenest the fire that burns for a season, and 
after a little while is quenched; for thou art 
ignorant of the fire of the judgment to come, 
and of everlasting punishment reserved fo?^ the 
ungodly. But for what art thou waiting? 
Bring what thou wilt." 

XII. While speaking these words and many 
Ciore he was filled with courage and gladness : 
his face grew full of grace, so that not only did 
it not fall, agitated at all that was being said 
to him, but on the contrary the Proconsul was 
amazed, and sent his own crier to make procla- 
mation in the middle of the stadium thrice, 
"Polycarp has confessed himself to be a 
Christian." No sooner was this proclaimed by 
the crier than the whole multitude, both of 
Gentiles and of Jews ^ dwelling at Smyrna, with 
ungovernable rage and a loud voice began to 
shout — ** This is the teacher of Asia, the father 
of the Christians, the destroyer of our Gods, the 
53aan who teaches many not to sacrifice nor even 
to worship." With these words they kept up their 
shout and continued asking Philip the Asiarch * 

* On Jews at Smyrna cf. Rev. ii. 8, and, on their activity 
in persecuting Christians, Euseb. Btst Ecc, v. i6. 

* '* The Asiarch was the head of the confederation of 


to let loose a lion at Polycarp. " But/' said he, 
" that is no longer in my power : the sports are 
Qver." ^ Thereupon it was their pleasure to yell 
>yith one accord that he should burn Polycarp 
alive. For the [prediction] of the vision about 
his pillow must needs be fulfilled, on the 
occasion of his seeing it burning while he was at 
prayer, and turning round and saying prophet- 
ically to his faithful friends, " I must needs be 
burnt alive." 

the principal cities of the Roman province of Asia. As 
such he was the chief priest of Asia and president of the 
games." " Under the Roman government the principal 
cities of the several provinces were united together in 
confederations for certain religious and civil purposes 
called commune Bithyniae, Ciliciae, Galatiae, Pamphyliae, 
etc. The presiding officers of these unions bore the titles 
Bithyniarch, Galatarch, etc.'* **In six at least of the 
cities comprised in the commune Asice (Smyrna, Ephesus, 
Pergamum, Sardes, Philadelphia and Cyzicus) periodical 
festivals and games were held under the auspices of the 
confederation" (Lightfoot). The plural in Acts xix. 31 
may be explained either (i) by the theory that retired 
Asiarchs retained the honorary title, or (2) that the title 
may have been given to the chief priests of the imperial 
worship in the cities of the confederation. See a full 
discussion of the whole subject in Lightfoot's Appendix 
on the Asiarchate, Apost Fathers^ II. iii. p. 404. 

* The word icwjjy€Via,=lit. dog drives, corresponds with 
the Latin venationes^ and includes all fights with beasts 
in the circus, either with or without dogs. 


XIII. This then was no sooner said than done, 
the mob in a moment getting together logs and 
fagots from the workshops and baths, the Jews 
as usual showing themselves specially zealous in 
the work. When the pyre had been made ready, 
Polycarp took off all his upper garments, and 
untied his girdle. He endeavoured also to take 
off his shoes, though he had never been in the 
habit of doing this, because every one of the 
faithful was eager to be the first to touch his 
bare body. For his good life's sake he had been 
treated with every honour even before his head 
was white. Forthwith then all the gear adapted 
for the pyre was put about him. They were on 
the point of fastening him with nails, but he 
said, " Let me be as I am : He that gave me 
power to abide the fire will grant me too without 
your making me fast with nails to abide un- 
troubled ^ at the pyre." 

XIV. So they did not nail him, but they 
bound him to [the stake]. He put his hands 
behind him and was bound, like a goodly ram 
out of a great flock for an offering, a whole burnt 

* The word of the Moscow MS., aaKvXros, means liter- 
ally unflayed or unmangled. The cognate verb <r<c»'\Xw= 
flay, had come to mean bore, vex, trouble : so in St. 
Mark v. 35 it is the word for " why troublest thou the 


offering made ready and acceptable to God. 
Then he looked up to heaven and said, *'0 
Lord God Almighty, Father of Thy beloved and 
blessed Son Jesus Christ, by Whose means we 
have received our knowledge of Thee, God of 
Angels and Powers and of all creation and of 
the whole race of the just who live before Thy 
face, I bless Thee in that Thou hast deemed 
me worthy of this day and hour ; that I might 
take a portion in the number of the martyrs in 
the cup of Christ, to the resurrection of eternal 
life ^ both of'soul and body in the incorruption of 
the Holy Ghost. Among these may I to-day be 
welcome ^ before Thy face as a fat and accept- 
able sacrifice as Thou didst prepare and manifest 
beforehand and didst bring about its fulfilment, 
Thou the faithful and true God. For this cause, 
yet and for all things I praise Thee, I bless 
Thee,? I glorify Thee through the everlasting 

1 Cf. John V. 29. 

^ The word in the original denotes more than mere 
reception or acceptance. In Demosthenes 13 17, 6, and 
Plat. Legg. 708. A., it=to receive into citizenship. It 
almost always implies to receive favourably. It is St. 
Luke's word (xv. 2) for receiveth sinners, and St. Paul's 
(Romans xvi. 2) for the welcome asked for Phoebe and 
for Epaphroditus (Phil. ii. 29). 

^ Cf. the Gloria in Excelsis. 



and heavenly High Priest^ Jesus Christ Thy 
beloved Son, through Whom to Thee with Him 
and with the Holy Ghost be glory now and for 
the ages to come. Amen."^ 

XV. When he had offered up his Amen and 
completed his prayer the firemen kindled the 
fire. A great flame flashed out, and we to 
whom it was granted to see saw a marvel ; and 
we moreover were preserved to the end that 
we might tell to the rest the tidings of what 
came to pass. The fire made the appearance of 
a vaulted roof,^ like a ships sail filling out 
with the wind, and it walled about the body of 
the martyr in a ring. There was it in the midst, 
not like flesh burning, but like a loaf baking, 
or like gold and silver being fired in a furnace. 

* Cf. Pol. ad PhiL xii. and Heb. passim for the pre- 
sentation of our Lord as the great High Priest. In Clem. 
ad Cor, He is the High Priest of our oblations. 

* On the form of the Doxology, cf. St. Basil, de Sp, Scto, 

* Cf. the account of the death of Savonarola ( Villari^ 
\\, 302). " A blast of wind diverted the fire for some time 
from the three bodies ; " and of Bishop Hooper (Foxe, 
Acts and Monuments) : " The wind having full strengfth 
in that place (it was a cold and lowering morning) it 
blew the flame from him, so that he was in a manner no 
more but touched by the fire." So of St. Agnes it was 
related that when on the pyre she was unharmed by the 
divided flames. {Act. Sand. Boll. ii. 716.) 


Moreover we were aware of a fragrance as great 
as of frankincense or some other of the precious 
spices breathing forth [its perfume].^ 

XVI. In the end, when the wicked ones had 
seen that his body could not be consumed by 
the fire they commanded an executioner to come 
up to him and to drive in a dagger. When he 
had so done there came out [a dove * and] abund- 

* "This phenomenon, however we may explain it, 
whether from the fragrance of the wood or in some other 
way, meets us constantly." Cf. A. Hamack in Zeitschr, . 
f. Kirchengesch. ii. p. 291. Lightfoot, Ap, Fathers^ II. 
i.p. 615. 

* "These words *dove and' are wanting not only in 
all the extant Greek MSS., and in the Latin of Rufinus 
and in the Syriac Version, but also in writers like 
Nicephorus, a borrower from Eusebius, who omits them " 
(Lightfoot). Probably the words were added by the 
author of the spurious Pionian biography, or by some 
other late editor. The idea of a dove personifying the 
ascending soul of the sufferer was familiar to the legendary 
martyrologist, and finds one of its most famous expres- 
sions in the lines of Prudentius (t c. 410) on the martyrdom 
of St. Eulalia— 

** Flamma crepans volat in faciem, 
Perque comas vegetata caput 
Occupat, exsuperatque apicem : 
Virgo, cito cupiens obitum, 
Appetit et bibit ore rogum. 
Emicat inde columba repens, 
Martyris os nive candidior 
Visa relinquere, et astia sequi : 


ance of blood so that it put out the fire, and all 
the multitude marvelled at the mighty difference 
between the unbelievers and the elect, of whom 
one was this man, the most admirable Polycarp, 
who in our times was an apostolic and prophetiq 
teacher, bishop of the Holy ^ Church in Smyrna ; 
for every word which he uttered from his mouth 
was accomplished and will be accomplished. 

Spiritus hie erat Eulaliae 
Lacteolus, celer, innocuus.^' 

Peristeph, iii. io6. 

It may be that the words wepiffTepd jcai, /. e. "a dove and " 
got into the text by a not unnatural corruption. If the 
Smyrnasan scribe wrote ESHAeKNOEPlCTEFNAnAHeoC, 
t\e. " There came out about the breast abundance," it is 
obvious that this might easily have become E^IHAOE- 
NnEPjCTEPAKAinAH0OC, i, e, *' There came out a dove 
and abundance," The most ingenious suggestion, adopted 
by Zahn, Funk, and Lagarde, is that of Bishop Ch. 
Wordsworth (App. C, to his Hippolytus^ pp. 318, 319) 
that the original was E^JHAeENnEPlCTYPAKAnAHeoC, 
I. e. " There came out about the haft abundance." The 
objection is that trrvpa^y the Greek for the spike at the 
butt-end of a spear (Xen. Heii, vi. 2-19), is not known 
to mean the haft or hilt of a sword or dagger. Bishop 
Lightfoot inclines to the belief that the words "dove 
and" were "deliberately added by the spurious Pionius" 
(Ap. Fathers^ II. i. pp. 606-643). 

^ The common reading is Catholic Church. Bishop 
Lightfoot is of opinion that the MS. authority is strongly 
in favour of Holy, Qi, Int p. 20. 



XVII. But when the jealous, envious evil one, 
the adversary of the race of the righteous, saw 
• both the majesty of his martyrdom and his 
blameless conversation from the beginning, and 
that he was crowned with the crown of incor- 
ruption and had carried off a prize which could 
not be gainsaid, he contrived that not even his 
poor body should be taken up by us, though 
many were desirous so to do and to come into 
communion with his most holy flesh.^ So he 
prompted Nicetes, father of Herodes and brother 
of Alce,2 to entreat the magistrate not to grant 
his body, lest, as he said, we should forsake the 
Crucified, and begin to worship this man. This 
was done at the prompting and persistence of 

* /. e, " by gathering together about his grave for the 
purpose of common worship " (Lightfoot). This may be 
the germ of the sentiment which finds a more distinct 
expression in St. Basil's Homily on the Forty Martyrs 
of Sebaste {Horn, ^ix.) : "The afflicted flees to the 
Forty ; the joyous hurries to them ; the former that 
he may find relief from his troubles, the latter that his 
blessings may be preserved . . . Let your supplications 
be made with the martyrs." The idea is not as the 
Jesuit annotator Gamier writes, " invocantur maLrtyres ; " 
it is the fellowship rather than the intercession of the 
saints which is sought, and this a fellowship localised at 
their graves, Cf. my note on St. Basil in Nicene and 
Post-nicene Fathers (JProleg, p. Ixxi.). 

2 Cf. Ig. Smyr. xiii., Pol. viii., and p. 23. She was 
presumably a Christian. 


the Jews. They moreover watched^ when we 
were about to try to take him out of the fire, 
ignorant that it will never at any time be 
possible for us to abandon the Christ, — Who, 
blameless on behalf of sinners, suffered for the 
salvation of the whole world of them that are 
being saved, — and to worship some other. Him, 
in that He is Son of God, we adore ^ ; the martyrs, 
as disciples and imitators of the Lord we rever- 
ence * as they deserve on account of their unsur- 
passable good will to their own King and Teacher. 
With them may it be granted to us to be made 
sharers alike of lot and of learning ! 

XVni. When the centurion saw the oppo- 
sition raised by the Jews, he put him in the 
midst, and, as their custom is, burned him. So 
we afterwards took up his bones, more valuable 
than precious stones, and finer than fine gold, 
and laid them where it was fitting.^ There the 
Lord will permit us, as shall be possible to us, to 
assemble ourselves together in joy and gladness, 
and to celebrate the birthday of his martyrdom, 

^ vpoffKvvovfiiv, ^ &yairC^ifi(v. 

' The place is not revealed for prudence' sake. The 
Letter of Polycrates, Bp. of Ephesus, writing about A.D. 
190, quoted in Euseb. //ist, EccL v. 24, indicates that he 
knew of the grave at Smyrna, (ccroifcifrai = hath been 
laid in his rocfif|ri}piov, cemetery, or sleeping-place. Cf Jer 
de Vir, IllusL xlv. "cubat.") 



alike in memory of them that have fought 
before, and for the training and preparation of 
them that are to fight hereafter.^ 

XIX. Thus It befell the blessed Poly carp, who 
was martyred with them that came from Phila- 
delphia, himself and eleven others, in Smyrna, 
and is himself alone held in all men's memory, 
so that even among the heathen is he everywhere 
spoken of, as one who was not merely an illus- 
trious teacher, but also a conspicuous martyr. 
His martyrdom all men are eager to copy, in 
that it came to pass according to the gospel of 
Christ Through his patience he overcame the 
unrighteous ruler, and thus received ^ the crown 
of incorruption. Rejoicing with Apostles and 
all just men, he glorifies our Almighty God and 
Father, and blesses our Lord Jesus Christ, 
Saviour of our souls, and Helmsman of our 
bodies, and Shepherd of the Catholic Church 
throughout the world. 

XX. You did indeed request that the circum- 
stances might be narrated to you more fully. 
We have, however, for the present, sent you con- 
cise information through our brother Marcian. 
On becoming acquainted with these events, send 

^ Cf. Tert. de Cor, iii. " We make offerings for the dead 
on a yearly day for a birthday.*' 

^* The word is the same as that in Gal. iv. 5, " received 
as his due." It is so used in Xen. Anab, vii. 7, 14. 


on our letter to brethren also beyond, that they 
may glorify the Lord who makes choice of His 
own servants. Now unto Him that is able by 
His grace and gift to bring us all into His 
heavenly kingdom, through His only-begotten 
Son, Jesus Christ, be glory, honour, might, 
majesty, for ever. Salute all the saints. They 
that are with us, and Euarestus, who wrote the 
letter, with his whole house, salute you.^ 

XXI. The blessed Polycarp was martyred on 
the second day of the first part of the month 
Xanthicus, on the seventh day before the 
Kalends of March,^ at the eighth hour,^ on a 
great Sabbath.* He was apprehended by Herodes 

^ " The name Euarestus occurs three times in Smyrnaean 
inscriptions . . . The only Bishop of Rome bearing this 
name is said to have been a Palestinian Jew, but the 
tradition has no value." — Lightfoot in loc, 

2 i. e. Feb. 23. The second day of the sixth month is 
confirmed by the Acts of Pionius ; cf. note on p. 13. 

^ Either 8 a.m., counting from midnight ; or 2 p.m. 
counting from 6 a.m. The former is the more probable. 

* Cf. chap. viii. " The mention of the * Great Sabbath ' 
accords with the statement in the document itself; 
and, so far as it goes, is an indication of the same 
authorship.'' — Lightfoot. The great Sabbath in the 
Church was the Saturday between Good • Friday and 
Easter (cf. Chrysost. Op. v. p. 525). The great Sabbath 
in later Jewish nomenclature was the Sabbath preceding 
the Passover. In the text "a" great Sabbath may be 
any Saturday connected with a great Jewish anniversary. 


in the Chief Priestship^ of Philip of Tralles, in 
the proconsulship of Statius Quadratus, ^ but in 
the reign of the eternal King, Jesus Christ ; to 
Whom be honour, glory, dominion through the 
eternal from generiation to generation. Amen. 

XXI L (i) We bid you God-speed, brethren, 
while you are walking by the word of . Jesus 
Christ, according to the Gospel, with Whom be 
glory to God for the salvation of His holy elect ; 
even as the blessed Polycarp testified.^ Be it 
ours to be found in His footsteps in the Kingdom 
of Jesus Christ. 

(2) This was transcribed by Gains from the 
(writings) of Irenaeus, a disciple of Polycarp, 
who also lived with Irenaeus. 

The martyrdom moreover occurred during a heathen festi- 
val. Bishop Lightfoot suggests the games of the Asiatic 
Confederation (Koivd *A(Tiac), in his exhaustive discussion 
of the whole subject, in Apost. Fathers^ Part ii. vol. i. 

1 Asiarch and High Priest indicate the same office. 
Caius Julius Philippus of Tralles is mentioned in an 
Olympian inscription as Asiarch in a.d. 149. The office 
may have been held for several years, or more than once. 

2 The assignment of the martyrdom to a.d. 155 
depends mainly on the correctness of the year of the 
proconsulship of Quadratus, accepted by Lightfoot, on the 
authority of Waddington's chronology of Aristides ; /. e. 
A.D. 154, 155. This fixes the Feb. 23 as the Feb. 23 in 
155, in which year it fell on a Saturday. But the evidence 
is not conclusive. Cf also Dr. Salmon in D, C. Biography^ 
iv. p. 430. ^ Or suffered martyrdom. 


(3) I Socrates in Corinth, from the copy of 
Gaius, have written it. Grace be with all 

(4) I again Pionius from the previous copy 
have written it. I searched it out in consequence 
of a revelation, for the blessed Polycarp showed 
it me in a revelation, as I shall declare in the 
sequel. I gathered it together now it was nearly 
worn out with age, that I too may be gathered 
together by the Lord Jesus Christ with His elect 
into His heavenly kingdom, to Whom be glory 
with Father and Holy Ghost, for ever and ever. 

^ These supplementary chapters obviously fall into three 
divisions, probably distinct in age and authorship, (i) 
The chronological appendix in Chapter xxi. This is 
accepted by Bishop Lightfocrt as part of the original 
letter, containing as it does historical references, of which 
the veracity has received remarkable vindication from 
recent archaeological discovery. (2) Commendatory post- 
script (xxii. i). This second postscript is omitted in the 
Moscow manuscript, and in the Latin version. It is 
however accepted by Bishop Lightfoot as probably 
genuine, there being nothing in the words themselves 
suggestive of a later date. " May not this postscript," he 
suggests, "have been an appendix added by the Philo- 
melian Church when they forwarded copies of the letter, 
as they were charged to do, to churches more distant 
from Smyrna than themselves?" — AposL Fathers^ Parts 
ii. iii. p. 638. (3) (xxii. 2, 3, 4.) — This account of trans- 
mission and transcription may probably be referred to the 
spurious Pionius. 



Ps. ii. II . . 

. Chap 

. II 

Gal. V. 14 . . 

• • >> 


„ cl. 6 . . 


„ vi. 7 . 



„ iv. 4 . . 


Eph. ii. 5, 8, 9 



Prov. iii. 28 . 


„ iv. 26 

• • >» 


Jer. V. 4 . . 


„ vi. 18. 

• • >» 


Tobit iv. 10 ; xii. 9 


Phil. ii. 10. 

• • >» 


St. Malt. V. 3 . 


„ ii. 16. 

• »» 


„ V. 10 . 


„ iii. 18 

• >» 


▼. 44 . 


„ iii. 21 

• • j> 


„ vi. 12. 


Col. i. 6 . 

• • »» 


vi. 13. 


I. Thess. V. 22 

• • >» 


„ vii. I, 2 


II. Thess. i. 4 

• • »» 


„ XXVI. 41 


„ iii. I 

5 • >» 


St. Mark ix. 35 . 


J. Tim. ii. i , 

• »> 


„ xiv. 38 


„ iv. 15 

• »» 


St. Luke xi. 4 . 


,. vi. 7 

• • »» 


St. John XV. 16 . 


II. Tim. ii. 12 



Acts ii. 24 . . 


„ iv. 10 



„ X. 42 . , . 


Heb. V. 13 



Rom. xii. 10 


I. John iu. 8 . 



„ xiii. 8 . . 


^'» .'^-3 

• >> 


,, xiv. 10 . 


I. Pet. 1, 2 . 

• >> 


I. Cor. vi. 2 


,, i.8 . 



vi. 9, 10 . 


„ i. 13 . 



„ xiv. 25 . . 


„ i. 21 . 



„ XV. 58 . . 


„ ii. 12 . 

• »> 


II. Cor. iii. 2 . 


„ ii. 22 . 



„ iv. 14 . . 


„ ii. 24 . 

• >» 


^ „ vi. 7 . . 


„ iii. 9 . 



Gal. 1. I. . 


„ iv. 7 . 

• »» 


„ iv. 26 . . . 


I „ V. 5 . 





Agnes, St., 65 
Alee, 23, 69 
Alford, Dean, 34 
Ammianus Marcellinus, 56 
Anicetus, Bp. of Rome, 9, 10 
Antiochus, monk, 18 
Antoninus Pius, 16 
Apostolical Constitutions, 14 
Aristides, 73 
*' Arrabo," word, 40 
Asiarch, 62, 73 
&(TKv\ros, ^4 
Athanasius, St., 54 

Bsetic inscription, 59 

Basil, menology of, 24 • 

Basil, St., 66, 69 

Beda, 52 

Bollandists, 13, 14 

Bucolos, Bp., 22 

Calendars, 24 

Callisto, 22, 60 

Carruca, 57 

** Catholic Church," phrase, 20, 

Cerinthus, 9 
Chronological table, 27 
Chrysostom, Archbp. 72 
Clement of Alexandria, Bp., 20 
Clement of Rome, St., 28, 29, 

34, 40, 41, 42, 50 
Cotterill, 18 
Crescens, 47 

Demosthenes, 6^ 
Aiotynirris, 55 

Duchesne, 15 

Elfyfivapxosy $5 
Epaphroditus, 65 
Euarestus, 72 
Euripides, 32, 51 
Eusebius, 14, 23, 39, 53, 58, 6?, 
67, 70 

Florinus, 11 
Foxe, 66 
Funk, 17, 68 

Gaius, 73, 74 

Gamier, 69 

Germanicus, 50, 53 

Gregory of Nazianzus, St., 54 

Harnack, 67 

Hermas, 8, 29, 33, 35, 38, 40, 41 

Herodes, 20, 21, 57, 69, 73 

Hilarion, 60 

Homer, 22 

Hooper, Bp., 66 

Horace, 33, 51 

Ignatius, St., 7, 17, 18, 23, 24, 

29, 41, 42, 46, 49 
Irenseus, 9, 14, 24, 39, 73 

Jacobson, Bp., 33 

Jerome, St., 15, 60, 70 

John, St., 9, II, 14, 16, 22, 24, 

Justin Martyr, St., 33 

Keim, 19 
Kvi/¥iy4(Tiaf 63 



Lagarde, 68 

Lightfoot, Bp., 8, 13, 14, 15, 16, 
17, 20, 21, 28, 29, 30, 32, 33, 
34,35,36,37, 3^,39,41,43, 
44, 46, 52. 53, 54, 55. 57, 5^» 
59, 63, 67, 68, 69, 72, 73, 74 


Lucian, 8 

Manuscripts, 25 
Marcian, 71 
Marcion; 9, 16, 39 
Marcus Aurelius, 14 
Minucius Felix, $9 

Nicephorus, 67 
Nicetes, 57, 69 

Olympic games, 8 
Origen, 59 

Papias, II, 14, 24, 39 

Parish, the word, 28 

TlapoiKia, 28 

Paul, St., 10 

Peregrinus, 8 

Philip of Tralles, 73 

Philomelium, 49 

Phoebe, 65 

Phrygian cowardice, 53 

Pionius, 13, 14, 60, 68 

Plato, 65 

Pliny, 42 

Plutarch, 33 

Polycarp, meaning of name, 22; 
referred to by Ignatius, 7, 8 ; 
by Hermas, o ; by Lucian, 8 ; 
by Irenaeus, 9, 10, ii; by 
Polycrates, 12; b]^ Tertullian, 
13 ; in **Acts of Pionius," 13 ; 
by Eusebius, 14; silent on 
Church Organisation, 18 ; 
Pionian Life of, 20; Epistle 
of, 28 [70 

Polycrates, Bp. of Ephesus, 12, 

Pompeii, 22 
Prudentius, 67 

Quintus, 50, 53 

Rufus, 29, 41 
Ruinart, 13 

Sabbath, a high, 57, 72 
Salmon; Dr., 39, 73 
Savonarola, 66 
Scillitan martyrs, 58 
Severus of Antioch, 46 
Shells, used for torturing, 52 
Shepherd of Hermas, 8 
Socrates, 15 
Sozomen, 15 

Statius Quadratus, 53, 73 
Strabo, 53 
Suetonius, 57 

ffaylor. Dr. C, 8, 18, 29 
Taylor, Bp. Jeremy, 30 
Tertullian, 13, 20, 34, 53, 54, 71 
Thackeray, 39 
Theodoret, 15, 39 
0^cty, 58 

Timotheus iElurus, 46 
Trajan, 14 

Valens, 43 

Venatio, 63 

Versions, 25 

Victor, Bp. of Rome, 10 

Vienne and Lyons, martyrs of, 14 

Villari, 66 

Waddington, W. H., 73 
Wake, Archbp., 43, 58 
Wordsworth, Bp. Ch., 68 

Xenophon, 68, 71 

Zahn, 42, 54, 68 
Zosimus, 29, 41 

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London & Bungay. 



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BRIGHTON: li9, Nobtb 8tr 




St. Polycarp, bishop of 601 
Stoyma, ••• Early 



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