Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Such was the condition at this time

Continuing in this series, the historian and Bishop, Eusebius of Caesarea, discusses a number of important historical events which the Scriptures corroborate as the fulfillment of Scriptural prophecies. 

First, Eusebius begins by touching upon the tribulation of those in Jerusalem under the reign of Nero Caesar, a topic which he will resume at the end of this section quoted below. Second, he discusses Paul's arrest and transportation from Judea to Rome for criminal allegations, aided by the anti-Christian Jewish authorities as recorded in the book of Acts. Then Eusebius moves on to the martyrdom of James, and how that evinces more of God's judgment upon the corrupt Jewish authorities in Jerusalem. He speaks of those things that "happened to the Jews in requital for James the Righteous," which culminated in 70 A.D. and the destruction of Jerusalem. 

In the background of this, Eusebius has very specific prophecies of Jesus and his apostles in mind. Most importantly, he has in mind Matthew 10 and 24, as well as Luke 21, as will be shown explicitly on this blog in future posts.

On pages 91-100 of his Ecclesiastical History, Eusebius writes:

Whilst Claudius held the government of the empire, it happened about the festival of the passover, that so great a sedition and disturbance took place at Jerusalem, that thirty thousand Jews perished of those alone who were crowded out of the gates of the temple, and thus trodden to death by one another. Thus the festival became a season of mourning and weeping to the whole nation and every family. This is almost literally the account given by Josephus. But Claudius appointed Agrippa, the son of Agrippa, king of the Jews, having deputed Felix procurator of all Samaria and Galilee, and also of the region situated beyond Jordan. He died after a reign of thirteen years and eight months, leaving Nero as his successor in the empire.

Josephus, in the twentieth book of his Antiquities, relates the sedition of the priests, which happened whilst Felix was governor of Judea, under the reign of Nero, in the following words: 
There arose also a sedition between the chief priests on the one hand, and the priests and the leaders of the people at Jerusalem on the other. Each one of them forming collections of the most daring and disaffected, became a leader, and when these met they encountered each other with invectives and stones. Amid these disturbances there was no one that would interpose to rebuke them, but all was done with the greatest licentiousness, as in a state destitute of a ruler. So great also, was the shamelessness and audacity of the chief priests, that they dared to send forth their servants to the barns, to seize the tithes due to the priests; and thus it happened that those of the priests that were destitute, saw themselves perishing for want. Thus did the violence of the factions prevail over all manner of justice.” 
The same author again relates, that about the same time there sprung up a certain species of robbers at Jerusalem, “who,” says he, 
“in broad day-light, and in the midst of the city, slew those whom they met; but particularly at festivals, mixed with the multitude, and with short swords concealed under their garments, stabbed the more distinguished of the people. When these fell, the very murderers themselves took part in expressing their indignation with the bystanders, and thus by the credit which they had with all, they were not detected.” 
And first, he says, that the high priest Jonathan was slaughtered by them; and after him, many were slain from day to day, so that the alarm itself was more oppressive than the very evils with which they were assailed; whilst every one was in expectation of death, as in the midst of battle.

Next in order, after other matters, he proceeds in his narration. 
“But the Jews were afflicted with an evil greater than these, by the Egyptian impostor. Having come into the country, and assuming the authority of a prophet, he collected about thirty thousand that were seduced by him. He then led them forth from the desert to the Mount of Olives,1 determining to enter Jerusalem by force, and after subduing the Roman garrison, to seize the government of the people, using his followers as body guards. But Felix anticipated his attack by going out to meet him with the Roman military, and all the people joined in the defence; so that when the battle was fought, the Egyptian fled with a few, and the most of his followers were either destroyed or captured.” 
  This account is likewise given by Josephus in the second book of his history; and it is worth while to subjoin to this account respecting the Egyptian, that which is mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles. It was there said to Paul, by the centurion under Felix, when the multitude of the Jews raised a sedition against the apostle, “Art thou not indeed that selfsame Egyptian that excited and led away the thirty thousand assassins into the desert?” Such were the events that happened under Felix.

  Festus was sent by Nero as successor to Felix. Under him, Paul, after having pleaded his cause, was sent a prisoner to Rome. But Aristarchus was his companion, whom he also somewhere in his epistles calls his fellow-prisoner; and here Luke, that wrote the Acts of the Apostles, after showing that Paul passed two whole years at Rome as a prisoner at large, and that he preached the gospel without restraint, brings his history to a close. After pleading his cause, he is said to have been sent again upon the ministry of preaching, and after a second visit to the city, that he finished his life with martyrdom. Whilst he was a prisoner, he wrote his second epistle to Timothy, in which he both mentions his first defence and his impending death. Hear, on these points, his own testimony respecting himself.
“In my former defence no one was present with me, but all deserted me. May it not be laid to their charge. But the Lord was with me, and strengthened me, that through me the preaching of the gospel might be fulfilled, and all the nations might hear it. And I was rescued out of the lion’s mouth.” 
  He plainly intimates in these words, “On the former occasion he was rescued from the lion’s mouth, that the preaching of the gospel might be accomplished,” that it was Nero to which he referred by this expression, as is probable on account of his cruelty. Therefore he did not subsequently subjoin any such expression as, “he will rescue me from the lion’s mouth,” for he saw in spirit how near his approaching death was. Hence, after the expression, “and I was rescued from the lion’s mouth,” this also, “the Lord will rescue me from every evil work, and will save me unto his heavenly kingdom,” indicating the martyrdom that he would soon suffer; which he more clearly expresses in the same epistle, “for I am already poured out, and the time of my departure is at hand.” And indeed, in this second epistle to Timothy, he shows that Luke alone was with him when he wrote, but at his former defence not even he. Whence, it is probable, that Luke wrote his Acts of the Apostles about that time, continuing his history down to the time that he was with Paul. Thus much we have said, to show that the martyrdom of the apostle did not take place at that period of his stay at Rome when Luke wrote his history. It is indeed probable, that as Nero was more disposed to mildness in the beginning, the defence of the apostle’s doctrine would by him be more easily received; but as he advanced to such criminal excesses as to disregard all right, the apostles also, with others, experienced the effects of the measures pursued against them.

  The Jews, after Paul had appealed to Cæsar, and had been sent by Festus to Rome, frustrated in their hope of entrapping him by the snares they had laid, turned themselves against James, the brother of the Lord, to whom the episcopal seat at Jerusalem was committed by the apostles. The following were their nefarious measures also against him. Conducting him into a public place, they demanded that he should renounce the faith of Christ before all the people; but contrary to the sentiments of all, with a firm voice, and much beyond their expectation, he declared himself fully before the whole multitude, and confessed that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, our Saviour and Lord. Unable to bear any longer the testimony of the man, who, on account of his elevated virtue and piety was deemed the most just of men, they seized the opportunity of licentiousness afforded by the prevailing anarchy, and slew him. For as Festus died about this time in Judea, the province was without a governor and head. But, as to the manner of James’s death, it has been already stated in the words of Clement, that he was thrown from a wing of the temple, and beaten to death with a club. Hegesippus, also, who flourished nearest the days of the apostles, in the fifth book of his Commentaries gives the most accurate account of him, thus: 
“But James, the brother of the Lord, who, as there were many of this name, was surnamed the Just by all, from the days of our Lord until now, received the government of the church with the apostles. This apostle was consecrated from his mother’s womb. He drank neither wine nor fermented liquors, and abstained from animal food. A razor never came upon his head, he never anointed with oil, and never used a bath. He alone was allowed to enter the sanctuary. He never wore woollen, but linen garments. He was in the habit of entering the temple alone, and was often found upon his bended knees, and interceding for the forgiveness of the people; so that his knees became as hard as camels’, in consequence of his habitual supplication and kneeling before God. And indeed, on account of his exceeding great piety, he was called the Just, and Oblias, which signifies justice and protection of the people; as the prophets declare concerning him. 
 Some of the seven sects, therefore, of the people, mentioned by me above in my Commentaries, asked him what was the door to Jesus? and he answered, ‘that he was the Saviour.’ From which some believed that Jesus is the Christ. But the aforesaid sects did not believe either a resurrection, or that he was coming to give to every one according to his works; as many however, as did believe, did so on account of James. As there were many therefore of the rulers that believed, there arose a tumult among the Jews, Scribes, and Pharisees, saying that there was danger that the people would now expect Jesus as the Messiah. They came therefore together, and said to James, ‘We entreat thee, restrain the people, who are led astray after Jesus, as if he were the Christ. We entreat thee to persuade all that are coming to the feast of the passover rightly concerning Jesus; for we all have confidence in thee. For we and all the people bear thee testimony that thou art just, and thou respectest not persons. Persuade therefore the people not to be led astray by Jesus, for we and all the people have great confidence in thee. Stand therefore upon a wing of the temple, that thou mayest be conspicuous on high, and thy words may be easily heard by all the people; for all the tribes have come together on account of the passover, with some of the Gentiles also.’ The aforesaid Scribes and Pharisees, therefore, placed James upon a wing of the temple, and cried out to him, ‘O thou just man, whom we ought all to believe, since the people are led astray after Jesus that was crucified, declare to us what is the door to Jesus that was crucified.’ And he answered with a loud voice, ‘Why do ye ask me respecting Jesus the Son of Man? He is now sitting in the heavens, on the right hand of great Power, and is about to come on the clouds of heaven.’ And as many were confirmed, and glorified in this testimony of James, and said, Hosanna to the son of David, these same priests and Pharisees said to one another, ‘We have done badly in affording such testimony to Jesus, but let us go up and cast him down, that they may dread to believe in him.’ And they cried out, ‘Oh, oh, Justus himself is deceived,’ and they fulfilled that which is written in Isaiah, 
‘Let us take away the just, because he is offensive to us; wherefore they shall eat the fruit of their doings’.2
Going up therefore, they cast down the just man, saying to one another, ‘Let us stone James the Just.’ And they began to stone him, as he did not die immediately when cast down; but turning round, he knelt down saying, ‘I entreat thee, O Lord God and Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.’ Thus they were stoning him, when one of the priests of the sons of Rechab, a son of the Rechabites, spoken of by Jeremiah the prophet, cried out saying, ‘Cease, what are you doing? Justus is praying for you.’ And one of them, a fuller, beat out the brains of Justus with the club that he used to beat out clothes. Thus he suffered martyrdom, and they buried him on the spot, where his tombstone is still remaining by the temple. He became a faithful witness, both to Jews and Greeks, that Jesus is Christ. Immediately after this, Vespasian invaded and took Judea.” 
   Such is the more ample testimony of Hegesippus, in which he fully coincides with Clement. So admirable a man indeed was James, and so celebrated among all for his justice, that even the wiser part of the Jews were of opinion that this was the cause of the immediate siege of Jerusalem, which happened to them for no other reason than the crime against him. Josephus also has not hesitated to superadd this testimony in his works. “These things,” says he, 
“happened to the Jews to avenge James the Just, who was the brother of him that is called Christ, and whom the Jews had slain, notwithstanding his pre-eminent justice.” 
The same writer also relates his death, in the twentieth book of his Antiquities, in the following words: 
“But Cæsar having learned the death of Festus, sends Albinus as governor of Judea. But the younger Ananus, whom we mentioned before as obtaining the priesthood, was particularly rash and daring in his disposition. He was also of the sect of the Sadducees, which are the most unmerciful of all the Jews in the execution of judgment, as we have already shown. Ananus, therefore, being of this character, and supposing that he had a suitable opportunity, in consequence of the death of Festus, and Albinus being yet on the way, calls an assembly of the judges; and bringing thither the brother of Jesus who is called Christ, whose name was James, with some others, he presented an accusation against them, as if they had violated the law, and committed them to be stoned as criminals. But those of the city that seemed most moderate and most accurate in observing the law, were greatly offended at this, and secretly sent to the king, entreating him to send to Ananus with the request not to do these things, saying that he had not acted legally even before. Some also went out to meet him as he came from Alexandria, and inform him that it was not lawful for Ananus to summon the Sanhedrim without his knowledge. Albinus, induced by this account, writes to Ananus in a rage, and threatening that he would call him to an account. But king Agrippa, for the same reason, took from him the priesthood, after he had held it three months, and appointed Jesus the son of Dammæus his successor.” 
These accounts are given respecting James, who is said to have written the First of the epistles general; but it is to be observed that it is considered spurious. Not many indeed of the ancients have mentioned it, and not even that called the epistle of Jude, which is also one of the seven called catholic epistles. Nevertheless we know, that these, with the rest, are publicly used in most of the churches.

 Nero was now in the eighth year of his reign, when Annianus succeeded the apostle and evangelist Mark in the administration of the church at Alexandria. He was a man distinguished for his piety, and admirable in every respect. 
  Nero now having the government firmly established under him, and henceforth plunging into nefarious projects, began to take up arms against that very religion which acknowledges the one Supreme God. To describe, indeed, the greatness of this man’s wickedness, is not compatible with our present object; and as there are many that have given his history in the most accurate narratives, every one may, at his pleasure, in these contemplate the grossness of his extraordinary madness. Under the influence of this, he did not proceed to destroy so many thousands with any calculation, but with such indiscriminate murder as not even to refrain from his nearest and dearest friends. His own mother and wife, with many others that were his near relatives, he killed like strangers and enemies, with various kinds of death. And, indeed, in addition to all his other crimes, this too was yet wanting to complete the catalogue, that he was the first of the emperors that displayed himself an enemy of piety towards the Deity. This fact is recorded by the Roman Tertullian, in language like the following: 
“Examine your records. There you will find that Nero was the first that persecuted this doctrine, particularly then when after subduing all the east, he exercised his cruelty against all at Rome. Such is the man of whom we boast, as the leader in our punishment. For he that knows who he was, may know also that there could scarcely be any thing but what was great and good, condemned by Nero.” 
Thus Nero publicly announcing himself as the chief enemy of God, was led on in his fury to slaughter the apostles. Paul is therefore said to have been beheaded at Rome, and Peter to have been crucified under him. And this account is confirmed by the fact, that the names of Peter and Paul still remain in the cemeteries of that city even to this day. But likewise, a certain ecclesiastical writer, Caius by name, who was born about the time of Zephyrinus bishop of Rome, disputing with Proclus the leader of the Phrygian sect, gives the following statement respecting the places where the earthly tabernacles of the aforesaid apostles are laid. “But I can show,” says he, 
“the trophies of the apostles: for if you will go to the Vatican, or to the Ostian road, you will find the trophies of those who have laid the foundation of this church, and that both suffered martyrdom about the same time." 
Dionysius bishop of Corinth bears the following testimony, in his discourse addressed to the Romans. 
"Thus, likewise you, by means of this admonition, have mingled the flourishing seed that had been planted by Peter and Paul at Rome and Corinth. For both of these having planted us at Corinth, likewise instructed us; and having in like manner taught in Italy, they suffered martyrdom about the same time.” 
This testimony I have superadded, in order that the truth of the history might be still more confirmed.

  Josephus in his account of the great distresses that seized the Jewish nation, relates also, in his writings, that beside many others, vast numbers also of those that were of the first rank among the Jews, were scourged with rods, and nailed upon the cross at Jerusalem, by Florus. For he, happened to be procurator of Judea at the commencement of the war, in the twelfth year of Nero’s reign. “Then,” says he, 
“throughout all Syria a tremendous commotion seized upon the inhabitants, in consequence of the revolt of the Jews. Every where did the inhabitants of the cities destroy the Jews without mercy. So that you could see the cities filled with unburied corpses, and the dead bodies of the aged mixed with those of children, and women not even having the necessary covering of their bodies. The whole province, indeed, was filled with indescribable distresses. But greater still than the crimes already endured, was the anticipation of those that threatened.” 
Such is the statement of Josephus, and such was the condition of the Jews at this time.3

1 In Matthew 24:4-6, Jesus refers to these events: "See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, 'I am the Messiah,' and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet."
2 Isaiah 3:10 LXX

3 Valesius. (1847). Life of Eusebius Pamphilus. In Parker S.E. (Trans.), An Ecclesiastical History to the 20th Year of the Reign of Constantine (pp. 91–100). London: Samuel Bagster and Sons.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Comparative Accounts with the Writings of the Evangelists

Continuing in this series, I now want to take a short break from referencing Eusebius' interpretation of Old Testament prophecies, and provide some historical information about those events which he argues were fulfilled within the generation of the Apostles. 

Although Eusebius was a comprehensive biblical exegete, he is actually more famous for being an excruciatingly detailed historian. As I noted in a couple posts, Eusebius is considered to be "the Father of Church History." For those unfamiliar with his historical works, over the next few posts I will be offering a few selections from those which will help clarify what first century events he thought clearly illustrated the fulfillment of Scriptural promises about the end of the Old Covenant administration and final judgment upon the Jewish nation in 70 AD.

A good place to begin is in his Ecclesiastical History, when describing what happened to the Jews around the time of Herod Agrippa's banishment, and afterward. He writes: 

Tiberius died after having reigned about twenty-two years, and Caius, receiving the empire next, immediately conferred the Jewish government on Agrippa, appointing him king over the tetrarchy both of Philip and Lysanias. To these, not long after, he adds also the tetrarchy of Herod, after having inflicted the punishment of perpetual exile upon Herod, together with his wife Herodias, for their numerous crimes. This was the Herod who was concerned in the passion of our Saviour. Josephus bears testimony to these facts. During the reign of this emperor, Philo became noted, a man most distinguished for his learning, not only among very many of our own, but of those that came from abroad. As to his origin, he was a descendant of the Hebrews, inferior to none at Alexandria in point of dignity of family and birth. As to the divine Scriptures, and the learning of his country, how greatly and extensively he laboured, his work speaks for itself. And how well skilled in philosophy and the liberal studies of foreign countries, there is no necessity to say, since, as he was a zealous follower of the sect of Plato and Pythagoras, he is said to have surpassed all of his contemporaries. 

This author has given us an account of the sufferings of the Jews in the reign of Caius, in five books. He there also relates the madness of Caius, who called himself a god, and was guilty of innumerable oppressions in the exercise of his power. He mentions the miseries of the Jews under him, and the embassy which he himself performed when sent to the city of Rome, in behalf of his countrymen at Alexandria; how that when he pleaded before Caius, for the laws and institutions of his ancestors, he received nothing but laughter and derision in return, and had well nigh incurred the risk of his life. Josephus also mentions these things in the eighteenth book of his Antiquities, in these words:
“A sedition having also arisen between the Jews dwelling at Alexandria and the Greeks, three chosen deputies were sent from each of the factions, and these appeared before Caius. One of the Alexandrian deputies was Apion, who uttered many slanders against the Jews; among other things, saying, that they treated the honours of Cæsar with contempt, that whilst all others, as many as were subject to the Roman empire, erected altars and temples to Caius, and in other respects regarded him as i god, they alone considered it disgraceful to raise statues to his honour, and to swear by his name. Apion having thus uttered many and severe charges, by which he hoped that Caius would be roused, as was very probable, Philo, the chief of the Jewish embassy, a man illustrious in every respect, being the brother of Alexander, the Alabarch,1 and not unskilled in philosophy, was well prepared to enter upon a defence against these charges. But he was precluded from this by Caius, who ordered him straightway to be gone, and, as he was very much incensed, it was very evident that he was meditating some great evil against them. Philo departed, covered with insult, and told the Jews that were with him, they had good reason to console themselves, that although Caius was enraged at them, he was already in fact challenging God against himself.” 

Thus far Josephus. And Philo himself, in the embassy which he describes, details the particulars of what was then done to him, with great accuracy. Passing by the greatest part of these, I shall only state those by which it will be made manifest to the reader, that these things happened to the Jews forthwith, and at no distant period, on account of that which they dared to perpetrate against Christ. First, then, he relates, that in the reign of Tiberius, at Rome, Sejanus, who was then in great favour with Tiberius, had made every effort utterly to destroy the whole nation of the Jews, and that in Judea Pontius Pilate, under whom the crimes were committed against our Saviour, having attempted something contrary to what was lawful among the Jews respecting the temple at Jerusalem, which was then yet standing, excited them to the greatest tumults

After the death of Tiberius, Caius having received the government, besides many other innumerable acts of tyranny against many, did not a little afflict the whole nation of the Jews particularly. We may soon learn this, from the declaration of the same author, in which he writes as follows: 

“So great was the caprice of Caius in his conduct towards all, but especially towards the nation of the Jews. As he was excessively hostile to these, he appropriated their places of worship to himself in all the cities, beginning with those at Alexandria, filling them with his images and statues. For having permitted it when others erected them of their own accord, he now began to erect them by absolute command. But the temple in the holy city, which had been left untouched as yet, and been endowed with privileges as an inviolable asylum, he changed and transformed into a temple of his own, that it should be publicly called the temple of Caius the younger, the visible Jupiter”. 

Many other and almost indescribable calamities, the same author relates, as happening to the Jews of Alexandria, during the reign of the aforesaid emperor, in his second book, to which he gave the title, ‘On the Virtues.’ Josephus also agrees with him, who likewise intimates that the calamities of the whole nation took their rise from the times of Pilate, and the crimes against our Saviour. Let us hear, then, what he also says in the second book of the Jewish War. 

“Pilate being sent by Tiberius as procurator of Judea, at night carried the covered images of Cæsar into the temple; these are called ensigns. The following day, this excited the greatest disturbance among the Jews. For they that were near, were confounded at the sight, as a contemptuous prostitution of their legal institutions; for they do not allow any image to be set up in their city.” 

Comparing these accounts with the writings of the evangelists, you will perceive, that it was not long before that exclamation came upon them, which they uttered under the same Pilate, and by which they cried again and again that they had no other king but Cæsar. After this, the same historian records, that forthwith another calamity overtook them, in these words: 

“But after these things, he (i.e. Pilate) excited another tumult, by expending the public treasure which is called Corban, in the construction of an aqueduct. This extended nearly three hundred stadia. The multitude were sorely grieved at it; and when Pilate came to Jerusalem, they surrounded the tribunal, and began to cry out against him. But having anticipated a tumult, he had placed his armed soldiers amongst the multitude, disguised under the same dress with the rest of the people, and having commanded them not to use their swords, but to strike the turbulent with clubs, he gave them a signal from the tribunal. The Jews being thus beaten, many of them perished in consequence of the blows, many also in their flight were trodden to death by their own countrymen. The multitude thus overawed by the misfortune of the slain, held their peace.” 

The same writer mentions innumerable other commotions that were raised in Jerusalem beside these;2 showing that from that time tumults, and wars, and plots of mischief, one after another, never ceased in the city and all Judea, until, last of all, the siege of Vespasian overwhelmed them. Thus, then, the divine justice overtook the Jews in this way, for their crimes against Christ

It is proper, also, to observe, how it is asserted that this same Pilate, who was governor at our Saviour’s crucifixion, in the reign of Caius, whose times we are recording, fell into such calamities that he was forced to become his own murderer, and the avenger of his own wickedness. Divine justice, it seems, did not long protract his punishment. This is stated by those Greek historians who have recorded the Olympiads in order, together with the transactions of the times. 

Caius, however, had not reigned four years, when he was succeeded by Claudius, in the sovereignty of the empire. In his reign there was a famine that prevailed over the whole world;3 an event, indeed, which has been handed down by historians far removed from our sentiments; and by which the prediction of the prophet Agabus,4 recorded in the Acts of the Apostles, respecting the impending famine over the whole world, received its fulfilment. Luke, however, in the Acts, after stating the famine in the time of Claudius, and after recording how, by means of Paul and Barnabas, the brethren at Antioch had sent to those of Judea, according to the ability of each one, also adds the following. 

“About this time (it is manifest he means the reign of Claudius), Herod the king prepared to afflict some of the church. But he slew James, the brother of John, with the sword.” 

Of this James, Clement adds a narrative worthy of note, in the seventh book of his Institutions, evidently recording it according to the tradition which he had received from his ancestors. He says, that the man who led him to the judgment seat, seeing him bearing his testimony to the faith, and moved by the fact, confessed himself a Christian. Both, therefore, says he, were led away to die. On their way, he entreated James to forgive him, and James, considering a little, replied, “Peace be to thee,” and kissed him; and then both were beheaded at the same time. Then also, as the Scriptures say, Herod, at the death of James, seeing that the deed gave pleasure to the Jews, also attacked Peter, and having committed him to prison, had well nigh executed the same murderous intention against him, had he not been wonderfully delivered from his prison by an angel appearing to him at night, and thus liberated to proclaim the Gospel. Such was the providence of God in behalf of Peter. 

The consequences, however, of the king’s attempts against the apostles, were not long deferred, but the avenging minister of divine justice soon overtook him after his plots against the apostles. As it is also recorded in the book of Acts, he proceeded to Cæsarea, and there on a noted festival, being clad in a splendid and royal dress, he harangued the people from an elevation before the tribunal. The whole people applauding him for his harangue, as if it were the voice of a god, and not of man, the Scriptures relate, “that the angel of the Lord immediately smote him, and being consumed by worms, he gave up the ghost.” It is wonderful to observe, likewise, in this singular event, the coincidence of the history given by Josephus, with that of the sacred Scriptures. In this he plainly adds his testimony to the truth, in the nineteenth book of his Antiquities, where he relates the miracles in the following words: 

“But he (i. e. Herod) had completed the third year of his reign over all Judea, and he came to the city of Cæsarea, which was formerly called the tower of Strato. There he exhibited public shows in honour of Cæsar, knowing it to be a kind of festival for his safety. At this festival was collected a great number of those who were the first in power and dignity throughout the province. On the second day of the shows, being clad in a robe all wrought with silver, of a wonderful texture, he proceeded to the theatre at break of day. There, the silver irradiated with the reflection of the earliest sunbeams, wonderfully glittered, inspiring admiration and awe in the beholders. Presently the flatterers raised their shouts in different ways; such, however, as were not for his good, calling him a god, and imploring his clemency in such language as this: ‘We have feared thee thus far as man, but henceforth we confess thee to be superior to the nature of mortals.’ The king did not either chide them or disclaim the impious flattery. After a little while, raising himself, he saw an angel sitting above his head. This he immediately perceived was the sign of evil, as it had once been the sign of good. And he felt a pain through his heart, and a sudden pang seize his bowels, which began to torment him with great violence. Turning, then, to his friends, he said, ‘I, your god, am now commanded to depart this life, and fate will soon disprove your false assertions respecting me. He whom you have called an immortal, is now compelled to die, but we must receive our destiny as it is determined by God. Neither have we passed our life ingloriously, but in that splendour which is so much extolled.’ Saying this, he laboured much with the increase of pain. He was then carried with great haste into the palace, while the report spread throughout the people, that the king at all events would soon die. But the multitude with their wives and children, after their country’s custom, sitting in sackcloth, implored God in behalf of the king; all places were filled with lamentation and weeping. But the king, as he lay reclining in an elevated chamber, and looking down upon them falling prostrate to the ground, could not refrain from tears himself. At length, overpowered by the pain of his bowels, for four days in succession, he ended his life, in the fifty-fourth year of his age and seventh of his reign. He reigned, therefore, for four years under Cains Cæsar, had the tetrarchy of Philip three years, and received that of Herod in the fourth year, reigning subsequently three years under Claudius Cæsar.” 

Thus far Josephus: in which statement, as in others, so in this, I cannot but admire his agreement with the divine Scriptures. But if he should appear to any to differ, in regard to the epithet of the king; yet the time and the fact show that it was the same individual, whether it happened by an error in writing that the name was changed, or in consequence of a double name applied to him; such as was the case with many. 

As Luke in the Acts, also introduces Gamaliel in the consultation respecting the apostles, saying, that at this time “arose Theudas, who gave out that he was some one, but who was destroyed, and all that obeyed him were dispersed,” let us now, also, add the written testimony of Josephus respecting the same circumstance. He relates, in the book already quoted, the following particulars. 

“While Fadus was procurator of Judea, a certain impostor called Theudas persuaded the multitude to take their possessions with them, and follow him to the river Jordan. For he said he was a prophet, and that the Jordan should be divided at his command, and afford them an easy passage through it. And with such promises he deceived many. But Fadus did not suffer them to enjoy their folly, but sent a troop of horsemen against them, who, falling upon them unexpectedly, slew many and took many alive; but having taken Theudas himself captive, they cut off his head and carried it to Jerusalem.” 

Besides this, he also mentions the famine that took place under Claudius, as follows. 

"About this time it happened that the great famine took place in Judea, in which also queen Helen having purchased grain from Egypt, with large sums, distributed to the needy." 

You will also find this statement in accordance with that in the Acts of the Apostles, where it is said, that according to the ability of the disciples at Antioch, they determined, each one, to send to the assistance of those in Judea. Which also they did, sending to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Paul. Of this same Helen, mentioned by the historian, splendid monuments are still to be seen in the suburbs of the city (i.e. Jerusalem) now called Ælia. But she is said to have been queen of the Adiabeni.

1 Alabarch. The Alabarch was the chief magistrate among the Jews at Alexandria.
2 In Matthew 24:6, Jesus prophecies: "And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet."
Matthew 24:7, Jesus prophecies: "For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of birth pains."
Acts 11:27-30

 Valesius. (1847). Life of Eusebius Pamphilus. In Parker S.E. (Trans.), An Ecclesiastical History to the 20th Year of the Reign of Constantine (pp. 73–81). London: Samuel Bagster and Sons.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Wonderful Fulfillment, Wonderful Completion

After the past few introductory posts in this series, it should be clear by now that Eusebius of Caesarea, the so-called "Father of Church History," considered the Scriptures to speak emphatically (and prophetically) about the end of the "Jewish Age," the Old Covenant "Mosaic" administration. Eusebius, of course, was not the only Church Father (as we will see in later posts) to highlight this teaching within the Scriptures. 

But for now, because Eusebius has so much to say about this topic, over the next few posts I plan on including much lengthier sections of his comments, in order to shorten the amount of posts on this blog. (I think I have roughly 50 pages of quotations left from him, which all refer to the prophetic "fulfillment" of the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 a.d.). In order to alleviate myself of much time editing each post, I will also include relevant footnotes below each citation, from the work cited. Below are some more (lengthy) excerpts from The Proof of the Gospel: Being the Demonstratio Evangelica of Eusebius of Cesarean (W. J. Sparrow-Simpson & W. K. L. Clarke, Eds., W. J. Ferrar, Trans. London; New York: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge; The Macmillan Company)

Commenting on Zechariah 14:1-2, Eusebius writes: 
The fulfilment of this also agrees with the passages quoted on the destruction of the whole Jewish race ...the final siege of the people by the Romans, through which the whole Jewish race was to become subject to their enemies: he says that only the remnant of the people shall be saved, exactly describing the apostles of our Savior. (Vol. 1, pp. 97–98) 

Commenting on Isaiah 53, he writes:
In this he shews that Christ, being apart from all sin, will receive the sins of men on Himself. And therefore He will suffer the penalty of sinners, and will be pained on their behalf; and not on His own. And if He shall be wounded by the strokes of blasphemous words, this also will be the result of our sins. For He is weakened through our sins, so that we, when He had taken on Him our faults and the wounds of our wickedness, might be healed by His stripes. And this is the cause why the Sinless shall suffer among men: and the wonderful prophet, in no way shrinking, clearly rebukes the Jews who plotted his death; and complaining bitterly of this very thing he says: “For the transgressions of my people he was led to death.” And then because total destruction overtook them immediately, and not a long time after their evil deed to Christ, when they were besieged by the Romans, he does not pass this over either, but adds: “And I will give the wicked for his tomb, and the rich for his death.” (Vol. 1, pp. 113–114)

Commenting on the faithful witness of Jesus' apostles, Eusebius draws a clear parallel between "the prophecies of what would happen to" Jesus' apostles and "the Son of man coming" (c.f. Matthew 10:13), which implies, based on the Scriptural allusion he uses, that Eusebius considered the "coming" of the Son of Man in Matthew 10:13 as the Lord's visitation of final judgment upon Israel within the same generation as the apostles. Notice carefully that Eusebius also sees consistency with this theme between Matthew's gospel and John's gospel, precisely because both come from the lips of Jesus himself:

When the Master gave them gloomy prophecies, if they gave heed to the things He said to them: “Ye shall have tribulation,”* and again: “Ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice”*—the strength and depth of their nature is surely plain, since they did not fear the discipline of the body, nor run after pleasures. And the Master also, as One Who would not soothe them by deceit Himself, was like them in renouncing His property, and in His prophecy of the future, so open and so true, fixed in their minds the choice of His way of life. These were the prophecies of what would happen to them for His Name’s sake—in which He bore witness, saying that they should be brought before rulers, and come even unto kings, and undergo all sorts of punishments, not for any fault, nor on any reasonable charge, but solely for this His Name’s sake.And we who see it now fulfilled ought to be struck by the prediction. (Vol. 1, pp. 136–137)
* John 16:33
* John 16:20
* Matthew 10:16-23

Commenting on Amos chapters 4 and 5, he notes a remarkable comment of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew, which undeniably refers to the destruction of Jerusalem's temple in 70 a.d.  Eusebius writes:
God now proclaiming the Christ by name the seventh time is said to “strengthen the thunder” and “to create the wind,” the proclamation of the Gospel being called thunder from its being heard by all men, and similarly the spirit that Christ breathed on His apostles is meant; and also the Saviour’s sojourn among men has clearly fulfilled the prophecy in which God is said to make “morning” and “mist” together, morning for those that receive salvation, but for the Jews that disbelieve in Him the contrary.  On whom also Scripture foretells an extreme curse, adding a lamentation for the Jewish race, which actually overtook them immediately after their impiety against our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. For of a truth from that day to this the House of Israel has fallen, and the vision1 once shewn by God and the rejection have been brought to pass, concerning the falling of their house in Jerusalem, and against their whole state, that it should not be possible for any one to lift them up, who will never more be lifted up.  “There is,” he says, “therefore no one to lift her up.” For since they did not accept the Christ of God when He came, perforce He left them and turned to all the Gentiles, telling the cause of his turning, when He said with tears, as if almost apologizing: 
“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killeth the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto her, how often2 would I have gathered thy children together, even as a bird gathereth her nestlings under her wings, and ye would not:* behold, your house is left unto you desolate.” (Vol. 1, pp. 210–211)

1 ὅρος in Migne from Paris text. Gaisford and Dindorf read ὅρασις following Donatus’ rendering, and the Oxford Codex.
2 W.H.: ποσάκις. E.: πολλάκις. W.H. omit ἔρημος.
* Matt. 23:37

In another chapter of the same work, commenting on a passage within Amos 4 again, he writes: 
You also, he says, will suffer a destruction such as Sodom underwent for its unnatural wickedness, and even so did not turn to Me. This is levelled at the Jewish race, and only received its fulfilment in their case, after their plot against our Saviour. Their ancient holy place, at any rate, and their Temple are to this day as much destroyed as Sodom. Yet though they have suffered in accordance with the prediction, they have not hitherto turned to Christ, on Whose account they have suffered so much. And so the prophecy before us is justly inspired to say: “And neither so have ye returned to me, saith the Lord.” (Vol. 1, p. 266-267)

In the introduction of the sixth volume of the same work, Eusebius reminds his audience again, that:
So let us now examine any such predictions of the Hebrew oracles, that now the Lord, now God, would descend to men and again ascend in their sight, and the causes of His descent: and you will note that some prophecies are veiled and some clearly expressed.  I hold that the secret prophecies were delivered in a disguised form because of the Jews, as the predictions concerning them were unfavourable; because they would most probably have destroyed the writing, if it had plainly foretold their final ruin; just as history shows that they attacked the prophets, because they rebuked them. But the prophecies that are clear include beyond all doubt the call of the Gentiles, and announce the promises of the reward of holiness not only to the Jewish race, but to all men throughout the world. As this is so, we must now hear the divine oracles. (Vol. 2, pp. 1–2)

Commenting on Psalm 106 and 107, he writes:
This clearly gives the good news of the Descent of God the Word from heaven, Who is named, and of the result of His Coming. For it says, “He sent his Word and healed them.” And we say distinctly that the Word of God was He that was sent as the Saviour of all men, Whom we are taught by the Holy Scriptures to reckon divine.  And it darkly suggests that He came down even unto death for the sake of those who had died before Him, and in revealing the redemption of those to be saved by Him it shews the reason of His Coming. For He saved without aid from any one those that had gone before Him even to the gates of death, healed them and rescued them from their destruction. And this He did simply by breaking what are called the gates of death, and crushing the bars of iron.  And then the prophecy proceeds to predict the state of desolation of those who rejected Him when He came. For it says, “He turned rivers into a wilderness, and rivers of waters into thirst, a fruitful land into saltness for the wickedness of them that dwell therein”: which you will understand if you behold Jerusalem of old, the famous city of the Jewish race, her glory and her fruitfulness, despoiled now of her holy citizens and pious men. For after the coming of Christ she became as the prophet truly says without fruit or water, and quite deserted, “saltness for the wickedness of them that dwell therein.” (Vol. 2, p. 7)

And finally (for this post, at least) Eusebius combines a lengthy series of prophetic statements by Micah, commenting on chapters 1, 3, 5, and 6:

And then He gives an additional reason for the Descent of the Word, recounting the impiety of the Jews, and the destruction falling upon them, and heralding the calling of all nations throughout the world. For these things’ sake the Word of God came down from heaven to earth. Hear this passage: 
“For the impiety of the House of Jacob is all this done, and for the transgression of the House of Israel. What is the impiety of the House of Jacob? Is it not Samaria? And what is the sin of Judah? Is it not Jerusalem? And I will make Samaria a lodge of the field, and a plantation of a vineyard, and I will draw down to chaos the stones thereof, and will hide the foundations thereof.”
And He adds:
“Evil hath descended from the Lord on the gates of Jerusalem,* the noise of chariots and horsemen.”
And again:
“O glory of the daughter of Jerusalem,* shave and cut off thy choice children. Enlarge thy widowhood, as an eagle, when thy captives are led from thee.”
And moreover:
“Sion shall be ploughed as a field, and Jerusalem shall be as a granary, and the mount of the house as a grove of the wood.”*
  Sion and Jerusalem and the so-called “mount of the house” are what were represented before in, “And the mountains shall be shaken from beneath him, and the valleys shall be melted as wax before the fire for the iniquity of Jacob.” For the mountains and the dwellers thereon were besieged for the iniquity they had wrought against Him soon and not long after Mount Sion was burned and left utterly desolate, and the Mount of the House of God became as a grove of the wood.
  If our own observation has any value, we have seen in our own time Sion once so famous ploughed with yokes of oxen by the Romans and utterly devastated, and Jerusalem, as the oracle says, deserted like a lodge.1 And this has come to pass precisely because of their impieties, for the sake of which the Heavenly Word has come forth from His own place.
  And I have already said that the Word of God came down from heaven and descended on the high places of the earth for other reasons, both that the mountains which of old lifted themselves up and exalted themselves against the knowledge of God might be shaken beneath Him (that is to say the opposing powers, which before His coming enslaved the Hebrew race as well as the rest of mankind in the practice of impiety and idolatry), and also that the evil dæmons called valleys (through their living in gloomy chasms, and in the recesses of the body) might melt as wax before the fire and flee away from men by the power of the divine Word
...And after this the same prophet, having prepared the way by telling of what related to the fact of the Descent of God the Word from heaven, and foretold what should be the causes of His coming, proceeds to relate His birth among men, and to name the place where He should be born, in the following words:

“And thou, Bethlehem, house of Ephratha, art the least to be among the thousands of Judah, out of thee shall come forth for me a leader,2 to be for a ruler in Israel, and his goings-forth are from the beginning from the days of eternity.”*
  Note with care how he says that the goings-forth of Him that shall appear at Bethlehem are from above and from eternity, by which he shews the pre-existence and essential origin of Him that is to come forth from Bethlehem.  Now if any person can apply the oracle to any one but Jesus, let him shew who it is; but if it is impossible to find any one but our Lord Jesus Christ, Who is the only Person after the date of this prophecy Who came forth thence and attained to fame, what should hinder us from acknowledging the truth of the prophecy, which directs its prediction on Him only?  For He alone of all men is known to have come forth from the before-named Bethlehem after the date of the prophecy, putting on a human shape, and what had been foretold was fulfilled at His coming. For at once and not after a long time the woes that were foretold fell on the Jewish nation, and blessings in accordance with the prophecies on the nations as well, and He Himself, our Lord and Saviour Who came from Bethlehem, was shewn to be the ruler of the spiritual Israel, such being the name of all people of vision and piety

...Then the word of the prophet, a little further on, suggests again the curtailing and abolition of the ancient ritual of the Law, speaking in the person of the people:
“Wherewithal shall I reach the Lord, and lay hold of my God most high? Shall I reach him by whole burnt-offerings, by calves a year old3 Should I give my firstborn for my ungodliness, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”*
And he makes this answer to them in the person of God:
“Has it not been told thee, O man, what is good? And what does the Lord require of thee, but to do judgment, and to love mercy, and to be ready to walk after thy God?”4
  You have then in this prophecy of the Descent of the Lord among men from heaven, many other things foretold at the same time, the rejection of the Jews, the judgment on their impiety, the destruction of their royal city, the abolition of the worship practised by them of old according to the Law of Moses; and on the other hand, promises of good for the nations, the knowledge of God, a new ideal of holiness, a new law and teaching coming forth from the land of the Jews. I leave you to see, how wonderful a fulfilment, how wonderful a completion, the prophecy has reached after the Coming of our Saviour Jesus Christ(Vol. 2, pp. 14–18)

* Micah 1:12.
* Micah 1:15.
* Micah 3:12.
1 Cf. 406c: Σιὼν ὔρος … διὰ Ῥωμαίων ἀνδρῶν κατʼ οὐδὲν τῆς λοιπῆς διαφέρουσα χώρας γεωργεῖται, ὡς καὶ ἡμᾶς αὐτοὺς ὀφθαλμοῖς παραλαβεῖν βουσὶν ἀρούμενον καὶ κατασπειρόμενον τὸν τόπον.—Epiphanius (de Mens. et Pond. xiv.; Migne, P.G. xliii. col. 259) in the fourth century states that Hadrian found the Temple trodden under foot, with a few houses standing, the Cœnaculum, and seven synagogues “that stood alone in Sion like cottages.” There is no reason to suppose that Eusebius’ valuable witness that part of the Temple area was under cultivation in his day is incorrect or merely rhetorical.
2 LXX omits ἡγούμενος.
* Micah 5:2.
3 E. omits Εἰ προσδέξεται κυρίος ἐν χιλιάσι κριῶν; ἢ ἐν μυριάσι χιμάρων πιόνων:
* Micah 6:6.
4 LXX: μετὰ κυρίου Θεοῦ σου. E.: ὀπίσω.

A House About to Fall

Continuing in our series on the early Church and their views about prophetic “fulfillment,” Eusebius offers further comments from the book of Isaiah. In Isaiah 6:9-12, he describes the way in which such prophecies were ultimately fulfilled in the first century. His comments about Isa. 6:9-11 are especially helpful considering that these passages are cited by Jesus and St. Paul as reaching complete fulfillment in their own generation (i.e. the first century; c.f. Matthew 13:14-15; Mark 4:12; Luke 8:10; Acts 28:26-27; Romans 11:8).

Eusebius writes: 
  “Ye shall hear indeed, and shall not understand: and seeing ye shall see and not perceive.* For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and they hear with heavy ears, and they have closed their eyes, lest they should ever see with their eyes, and hear with their ears,1 and turn, and I should heal them.2 And I said, Until when, O Lord? And he said, Until the cities be desolated that none dwell in them, and houses that no men be in them, and the earth be left desolate. And afterwards God will increase men, and they that are left on the earth shall be increased. 

  And notice here how they that are left again on the earth, all the rest of the earth being desolate, alone are said to multiply. These must surely be our Saviour’s Hebrew disciples, going forth to all men, who being left behind like a seed have brought forth much fruit, namely, the Churches of the Gentiles throughout the whole world. And see, too, how at the same time he says that only those will multiply who are left behind from the falling away of the Jews, while the Jews themselves are utterly desolate: “Their land,” he says, “shall be left unto them desolate.” And this was also said to them before by the same prophet: “Your land is desolate, your cities are burnt with fire, your country strangers devour it before your eyes.”
  And when was this fulfilled, except from the times of our Saviour? ...But from that inspired word, by which our Lord and Saviour Himself predicted what was about to fall on them, saying: “Your house is left unto you desolate,”3 from that moment and not long after the prediction they were besieged by the Romans and brought to desolation.
  …The Scripture, as I suppose, means by this, that after the first siege, which they are recorded to have undergone in the time of the apostles, and of Vespasian, Emperor of the Romans, being a second time besieged again under Hadrian they were completely debarred from entering the place, so that they were not even allowed to tread the soil of Jerusalem.4

* Isa 6:9.
1 S.: καὶ τῇ καρδίᾳ συνῶσιν.
2 S.: ἰάσομαι. E.: ἰάσωμαι.
3  Matthew 23:38
4 Cf. H.E. iv. c. 6; Tertullian, Apol. c. 16. Origen, c. Celsum viii. ad fin.; Gregory Naz., orat, xii. After the founding of Ælia Capitolina, Milman says, “An edict was issued prohibiting any Jew from entering the new city on pain of death, or approaching its environs so as to contemplate even at a distance its sacred height.”—History of the Jews, Book. XVIII. ad fin.

 Eusebius of Cæsarea. (1920). The Proof of the Gospel: Being the Demonstratio Evangelica of Eusebius of Cæsarea. (W. J. Sparrow-Simpson & W. K. L. Clarke, Eds., W. J. Ferrar, Trans.) (Vol. 1, pp. 83–84). London; New York: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge; The Macmillan Company.