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An Ecclesiastical History To The 20th Year Of The Reign Of Constantine by Eusebius

SINCE we have promised in the outset of our work to give extracts occasionally when we refer to the declarations of the ancient presbyters and historians of the church, in which they have transmitted the traditions that have descended to us respecting the sacred Scriptures; among whom Irenæus was one; let us now give his words, and first of all what he has said of the holy gospels: “Matthew produced his gospel written among the Hebrews in their own dialect, whilst Peter and Paul proclaimed the gospel and founded the church at Rome. After the departure of these, Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, also transmitted to us in writing what had been preached by him. And Luke, the companion of Paul, committed to writing the gospel preached by him. Afterwards John, the disciple of our Lord, the same that lay upon his bosom, also published the gospel, whilst lie was yet at Ephesus in Asia.” This is what this author says in the third book of the work already mentioned; and in the fifth, he thus descants on the Revelation of John and the calculation of antichrist’s name: “As matters are thus, and the number is thus found in all the genuine and ancient copies, and as they who saw John attest; reason itself shows that the number of the name of the beast is indicated by the Greek letters which it contains.” And a little further on he speaks of the same John: “We, therefore,” says he, “do not venture to affirm any thing with certainty respecting the name of antichrist. For were it necessary that his name should be clearly announced to the present age, it would have been declared by him who saw the revelation. For it has not been long since it was seen, but almost in our own generation, about the end of Domitian’s reign.” These are what he states respecting the Revelation. He also mentions the First Epistle of John, extracting many testimonies from it: he also mentions the First Epistle of Peter. And he not only knew, but also admitted the book called Pastor, in these words: “Well is it said in that work which declares, ‘First of all believe that there is one God, who created and arranged all things,’ ” &c.

He also quotes some expressions from the Wisdom of Solomon, almost in these words: “The vision of God is productive of immortality, but immortality makes us to be next to God.” He also mentions the commentaries of a certain apostolical presbyter, whose name he has passed by in silence; he also adds his expositions of the sacred Scriptures. He moreover makes mention of Justin Martyr and Ignatius, taking some testimony also from the works written by these. He also promises in a separate work to refute some of the writings of Marcion. Hear also what he has written respecting the translation of the holy Scriptures by the seventy. “God,” says he, “became man, and the Lord himself saved us, giving us the sign of the virgin. But not as some say, that now presume to interpret the Scriptures: ‘Behold a young woman shall conceive and bear a son,’ as Theodotion of Ephesus and Aquila of Pontus have translated, both of them Jewish proselytes. Whom the Ebionites following, assert that Jesus was begotten of Joseph.” After a little he adds: “For before the Romans established their empire, whilst yet the Macedonians had possession of Asia, Ptolemy, the son of Lagos, being ambitious to adorn the library established by him in Alexandria, with the works of all men, as many as were worthy of being studied, requested of the inhabitants of Jerusalem to have their works translated into the Greek; but as they were yet subject to the Macedonians, they sent seventy of their elders that were best skilled in the Scriptures, and in both languages, to Ptolemy, and thus Providence favoured his design. But as he wished them to make the attempt separately, and apprehensive, lest by concert they might conceal the truth of the Scriptures by their interpretation, therefore separating them from one another, he commanded all to write the same translation. And this he did in all the books. Assembling therefore in the same place, in the presence of Ptolemy, and each of them comparing their respective versions, God was glorified, and the Scriptures were recognised as truly divine, as all of them rendered the same things, in the very same expressions, and the same words, from the beginning to the end. So that the Gentiles present knew that the Scriptures were translated by a Divine inspiration. Neither was it any thing extraordinary that God should have done this, who, indeed, in the captivity of the people under Nebuchadnezzar, when the Scriptures had been destroyed, and the Jews returned to their country after seventy years, subsequently in the times of Artaxerxes king of the Persians, inspired Esdras the priest, of the tribe of Levi, to compose anew all the discourses of the ancient prophets, and to restore to the people the laws given by Moses.” Thus far Irenæus.








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