Hegesippus

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Hegesippus (ca 110 A.D. - ca 180), was a Christian chronicler of the early Christian church and writer countering heresies. His works are lost, save some passages quoted by Eusebius, who tells us that he wrote Hypomnemata (Memoirs) in five books, in the simplest style concerning the tradition of the Apostolic preaching. Hegesippus was also known to Jerome. His work was written to refute the new heresies of the Gnostics and of Marcion. He appealed principally to tradition as embodied in the teaching which had been handed down through the succession of bishops, thus providing much information about the earliest bishops that otherwise would have been lost.

Eusebius says that Hegesippus was a convert from Judaism, for he quoted from the Hebrew, was acquainted with the Gospel of the Hebrews and with a Syriac Gospel, and he also cited unwritten traditions of the Jews. He seems to have lived in some part of the East, possibly Palestine, in the time of Pope Anicetus (155-166 A.D.) he travelled to Corinth and Rome, collecting on the spot the teachings of the various churches which he visited, and ascertaining their uniformity with Rome, according to this excerpt:

"And the Church of the Corinthians remained in the true word until Primus was bishop in Corinth; I made their acquaintance in my journey to Rome, and remained with the Corinthians many days, in which we were refreshed with the true word. And when I was in Rome, I made a succession up to Anicetus, whose deacon was Eleuterus. And in each succession and in each city all is according to the ordinances of the law and the Prophets and the Lord" (quoted in Eusebius, Hist. Eccles. IV, 22).

With great ingenuity J.B. Lightfoot, in Clement of Rome (London, 1890), has found traces of this list of popes in Epiphanius of Cyprus, Haer., xxvii, 6, where that fourth century writer carelessly says: "Marcellina came to us lately and destroyed many, in the days of Anicetus, Bishop of Rome", and then refers to "the above catalogue", though he has given none. He is clearly quoting a writer who was at Rome in the time of Anicetus and made a list of popes beginning with St. Peter and St. Paul, martyred in the twelfth year of Nero. A list which has some curious agreements with Epiphanius, and likewise extends only to Anicetus, is found in the poem of Pseudo-Tertullian against Marcion; the author has mistaken Marcellina for Marcion. The same list is at the base of the earlier part of the Liberian Catalogue, doubtless taken from Hippolytus. It seems fairly certain that the list of Hegesippus was also used by Irenaeus, Africanus, and Eusebius in forming their own. It should be said that a number of scholars have rejected Lightfoot's view, though on weak grounds. It is probable that Eusebius borrowed his list of the early bishops of Jerusalem from Hegesippus.

Eusebius quotes from Hegesippus a long and perhaps legendary account of the death of James the Just, "the brother of the Lord", also the story of the election of his successor Simeon, and the summoning of the descendants of Jude to Rome by Domitian. A list of heresies against which Hegesippus wrote is also cited. Dr. Lawlor has argued (Hermathena, XI, 26, 1900, p. 10) that all these passages cited by Eusebius were connected in the original, and were in the fifth book of Hegesippus. He has also argued (Journal of Theological Studies, April, 1907, VIII, 436) the likelihood that Eusebius got from Hegesippus the statement that John was exiled to Patmos by Domitian. Hegesippus mentioned the letter of Clement to the Corinthians, apparently in connection with the persecution of Domitian. It is very likely that the dating of heretics according to papal reigns in Irenaeus and Epiphanius -- e.g., that Cerdon and Valentius came to Rome under Anicetus -- was derived from Hegesippus, and the same may be true of the assertion that Hermas was the brother of Pope Pius (as the Liberian Catalogue, the poem against Marcion, and the Muratorian fragment all state). The date of Hegesippus is fixed by the statement that the death and apotheosis of Antinous (130) occurred in his own time, that he came to Rome under Anicetus and wrote in the time of Eleutherus. Zahn (Zeitschrift für Kirchengeschichte, II [1877-8], 288, and in Theol. Litteraturblatt [1893], 495) has shown that the work of Hegesippus was still extant in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in three Eastern libraries.

"We must lament the loss of other portions of the Memoirs which were known to exist in the seventeenth century."[1] (http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/hegesippus.html)


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