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SermonIndex.net : Christian Books : Chapter VIII.--The Statements of Irenæus in regard to the Divine Scriptures.

Church History by Eusebius Pamphilius

Chapter VIII.--The Statements of Irenæus in regard to the Divine Scriptures.

1. Since, in the beginning of this work, we promised to give, when needful, the words of the ancient presbyters and writers of the Church, in which they have declared those traditions which came down to them concerning the canonical books, and since Irenæus was one of them, we will now give his words and, first, what he says of the sacred Gospels:

2. |Matthew published his Gospel among the Hebrews in their own language, while Peter and Paul were preaching and founding the church in Rome.

3. After their departure Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, also transmitted to us in writing those things which Peter had preached; and Luke, the attendant of Paul, recorded in a book the Gospel which Paul had declared.

4. Afterwards John, the disciple of the Lord, who also reclined on his bosom, published his Gospel, while staying at Ephesus in Asia.|

5. He states these things in the third book of his above-mentioned work. In the fifth book he speaks as follows concerning the Apocalypse of John, and the number of the name of Antichrist:

|As these things are so, and this number is found in all the approved and ancient copies, and those who saw John face to face confirm it, and reason teaches us that the number of the name of the beast, according to the mode of calculation among the Greeks, appears in its letters....|

6. And farther on he says concerning the same:

|We are not bold enough to speak confidently of the name of Antichrist. For if it were necessary that his name should be declared clearly at the present time, it would have been announced by him who saw the revelation. For it was seen, not long ago, but almost in our generation, toward the end of the reign of Domitian.|

7. He states these things concerning the Apocalypse in the work referred to. He also mentions the first Epistle of John, taking many proofs from it, and likewise the first Epistle of Peter. And he not only knows, but also receives, The Shepherd, writing as follows:

|Well did the Scripture speak, saying, First of all believe that God is one, who has created and completed all things,'| &c.

8. And he uses almost the precise words of the Wisdom of Solomon, saying: |The vision of God produces immortality, but immortality renders us near to God.| He mentions also the memoirs of a certain apostolic presbyter, whose name he passes by in silence, and gives his expositions of the sacred Scriptures.

9. And he refers to Justin the Martyr, and to Ignatius, using testimonies also from their writings. Moreover, he promises to refute Marcion from his own writings, in a special work.

10. Concerning the translation of the inspired Scriptures by the Seventy, hear the very words which he writes:

|God in truth became man, and the Lord himself saved us, giving the sign of the virgin; but not as some say, who now venture to translate the Scripture, Behold, a young woman shall conceive and bring forth a son,' as Theodotion of Ephesus and Aquila of Pontus, both of them Jewish proselytes, interpreted; following whom, the Ebionites say that he was begotten by Joseph.|

11. Shortly after he adds:

|For before the Romans had established their empire, while the Macedonians were still holding Asia, Ptolemy, the son of Lagus, being desirous of adorning the library which he had founded in Alexandria with the meritorious writings of all men, requested the people of Jerusalem to have their Scriptures translated into the Greek language.

12. But, as they were then subject to the Macedonians, they sent to Ptolemy seventy elders, who were the most skilled among them in the Scriptures and in both languages. Thus God accomplished his purpose.

13. But wishing to try them individually, as he feared lest, by taking counsel together, they might conceal the truth of the Scriptures by their interpretation, he separated them from one another, and commanded all of them to write the same translation. He did this for all the books.

14. But when they came together in the presence of Ptolemy, and compared their several translations, God was glorified, and the Scriptures were recognized as truly divine. For all of them had rendered the same things in the same words and with the same names from beginning to end, so that the heathen perceived that the Scriptures had been translated by the inspiration of God.

15. And this was nothing wonderful for God to do, who, in the captivity of the people under Nebuchadnezzar, when the Scriptures had been destroyed, and the Jews had returned to their own country after seventy years, afterwards, in the time of Artaxerxes, king of the Persians, inspired Ezra the priest, of the tribe of Levi, to relate all the words of the former prophets, and to restore to the people the legislation of Moses.|

Such are the words of Irenæus.

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