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Dionysius Syrus (=Dionysius Bar Salibi, =Jacob Bar Salibi), Commentary on Revelation (extracts). Hermathena vol. 6 (1888) pp.397-418, vol.7 (1890) pp.137-150; The Expositor 7th series vol. 1 (1906), pp.481-495.

Dionysius Bar Salibi quotes the comments of Gaius and Hippolytus on:

and of Hippolytus on:

and (from a subsequent manuscript find) 

Some additional notes by Roger Pearse



[By John GWYNN. D.D.]

The extant remains of the writings of Caius, and the scattered notices of him that occur in ancient writers, are so few and meagre, that they serve to raise, rather than to solve, questions concerning him. It may be briefly said, that hardly anything has hitherto been known of him with certainty, beyond the facts that he flourished about the year of our Lord 200, and that he wrote a Dialogue against Proclus, a Montanist leader. I believe, therefore, that many students of the early history of the Church, and of the New Testament Canon, will welcome an accession to the scanty materials out of which the existing acounts of him have been constructed. I propose, accordingly, to give in this Paper a few passages which I have recently lighted on, purporting to be derived from a work in which his contemporary, Hippolytus, controverted his teaching concerning the authenticity of the Apocalypse of St. John.

These passages, five in number, are embodied in the inedited Syriac Commentary on the Apocalypse, Acts, and Epistles, of Dionysius Barsalibi, the learned Jacobite divine of the twelfth century from whose Commentary on the Gospels investigators have learned many valuable facts----notably, the existence of Ephraim's Commentary on the Diatessaron of Tatian, recently confirmed so signally by Moesinger's publication of a Latin translation of the Armenian version. Of each of the five the method is the same. An objection is briefly stated as raised by Caius against some point in which he conceived that the Apocalypse was at variance with the teaching of the Gospels and of St. Paul; and the |398 arguments of Hippolytus, in reply, are given at some length.

Now, of the fragments preserved for us by Eusebius of the Dialogue of Caius, the principal is one on which much dispute has arisen----whether it refers to the canonical Apocalypse. It is as follows :----

'Cerinthus, by means of revelations purporting to have been written by a great Apostle, attempts to impose on us marvels which he pretended were shown to him by angels ; and says, that after the resurrection the reign of Christ is to be on earth, and that men are to inhabit Jerusalem in fleshy bondage to lusts and pleasures ; and being an enemy to God's Scriptures, he declares, in his desire to deceive, that the space of a thousand years is to be spent in a marriage feast.' (Hist. Eccl. iii. 28.)

From these words the suspicion, prima facie, arises, that Caius may have rejected the Apocalypse from the Canon, and ascribed it to the arch-heretic Cerinthus. Yet, if the passage stood alone, this suspicion might well be set aside. The carnal millennium it describes is utterly unlike the millennium of our Apocalypse; and it seems, besides, impossible that anyone could have imagined Cerinthus to be the author of a book of which the Christology differs so fundamentally from his. But Eusebius, though he does not appear himself to have understood Caius to refer to the Apocalypse of the Canon, cites from Dionysius of Alexandria a statement, that 'some of those before him' had rejected the Apocalypse as the work, not of St. John, but of Cerinthus ; the grounds of rejection being much the same as those alleged by Caius, and expressed in similar, but grosser terms. The obvious inference seems to be, that Dionysius is here referring to Caius, and that he believed the 'revelations' which Caius ascribed to Cerinthus to be the Book of the Revelation, usually received in the Church as written by St. John. And in support of this inference |399 the fact is adduced that Ebediesu, a late Syriac writer (circ. 1300), in his Catalogue, mentions, among the works of Hippolytus, his 'Heads against Caius.' 1 What more likely (it may be asked) than that the point of controversy between these contemporaries may have been the authenticity of the Book which the one appears to have called in question ; while the other, as his extant works attest, accepted it with reverence, and studied it with sedulous care ?

Bearing these particulars in mind, we shall better be able to estimate the evidence yielded by the passages of which I proceed to give a translation.2

I. The first is as follows :----

[Rev. viii. 8: 
A great mountain was cast into the sea, and the third part of the sea became blood,]
fol. 3r, line 13)

'On this, Caius the heretic objected to this revelation, and said that it is not possible that these things should be, inasmuch as as a thief that cometh in the night, so is the coming of the Lord [1 Thess. v. 2]. 

Hippolytus of Rome answered him, and said that, in like manner as God wrought signs such as these in Egypt, so is He to work when Christ appears. And those that [were wrought] in Egypt were partial, inasmuch as a part of the people was subjected there ; but these are to be general,3 before the judgment, on all the world. Accordingly, by the revelation John declared that there are to be plagues before the judgment, as though for the avenging of the righteous and retribution on the unbelieving, that when involved in these they may not trouble the faithful. 

So also the Lord said, There shall be in that day tribulation |400 such as has been none like it [St. Matth. xxiv. 21] ; and Joel, I will shew signs in heaven and on earth, blood and fire and vapour of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness and the moon into blood, before the day of the Lord come [Joel ii. 30, 31] ; and Amos, To what end is the day of the Lord for you, for it is dark and not light? in like manner as if thou fleddest from a lion and a bear met thee, or one leaned his hands on a wall and a serpent bit him [Amos v. 18, 19]. 

The text, that the day of the Lord cometh as a thief, signifies as regards the unbelieving that they are darkness, inasmuch as the faithful are children of light, who walk not in the night [St. John xi. 10; xii. 35, 36 ; Eph. v. 8]. Accordingly, in Egypt this type was completed; for the Egyptians had darkness, but the Hebrews had light [Exod. x. 22, 23].'

II. The second goes on much the same lines----

[Rev. viii. 12: 
The third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part 
of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened
(Ms. Rich. 7185, f. 3v, line 20)

'On this Caius said that, just as in the Flood the heavenly bodies were not taken away and suddenly submerged, thus also is it to be in the end, as it is written [St. Matth. xxiv. 37] ; and Paul says, When they shall say, Peace and safety, destruction shall come upon them [1 Thess. v. 3].

But Hippolytus says, in reply to this objection of the heretic: Before the Flood there was none of these signs, inasmuch as the Flood was partial; and the heavenly bodies were not removed, inasmuch as the general end had not arrived : but when heaven and earth are about to pass away [St. Matth. xxiv. 35], it must needs be that by little and little their splendour shall perish. 

And to this Joel testifies : Before him verily the earth shall be confounded and the heavens shaken, and the sun and moon shall be darkened, and the stars their light shall set [Joel ii. 10]. And our Lord said, in the Book of Luke, And there shall be signs in the sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations, and the powers which are in |401 heaven shall be shaken [St. Luke xxi. 25, 26]. And as to this, that He sent a manifest token, it is with regard to the non-perception of the unbelieving that He signifies. 

And as to the text, When they shall say Peace, destruction shall come upon them, it is with regard to the Jews that He signifies, that they expect to possess their land and to be able to live in peace, and forthwith Christ appears and they are put to shame.'

III. The third is not dissimilar.

[Rev. ix. 2, 3: 
There came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth, and unto them was given power, 
even as the scorpions of the earth have power,
(Ms. Rich. 7185, f. 4r, line 14)

'On this Caius objects, that according to this, the unrighteous are consumed by the locusts; whereas Scripture has said that sinners prosper and the righteous are persecuted, in the world' [Ps. lxxiii. 12 ] ; and Paul, that the faithful shall be persecuted and the evil shall flourish, deceiving and being deceived [2 Tim. iii. 12, 13]. 

But Hippolytus answers him, and says that the faithful, those who are persecuted by the unrighteous, at this period are to have rest, because they have been sealed; but the unrighteous who persecuted the saints, on them comes the plague of locusts; even as the Egyptians were devoured, and the Hebrews were free from the plagues, while they dwelt in one place. Thus the saints in this time are to be in well-being, even as our Lord said, When these things begin to be, be of good cheer, and lift up your heads, inasmuch as your redemption is nigh [St. Luke, xxi. 28]; that is, when plagues come on the evil, the righteous have rest. And this, that evil men deceive and are deceived [2 Tim. iii. 13], at the present day is coming to pass : that crafty men, who alter the words of the Lord and of the Scriptures after their evil thoughts, that even though at the present day they are proceeding further, yet in the end they are to be rebuked : even as Jannes and Jambres, who withstood Moses [ib. 8, 9], and afterwards were overcome and put to shame.' |402 

IV. The fourth takes up different ground, and (as will presently be shown) contains a further element of interest.

[Rev. ix. 15: 
And the angels were loosed, which were prepared for seasons and for days, 
to slay the third part of men,
(Ms. Rich. 7185, f. 4v, line 7)

'On this Caius says : It is not written that angels are to make war, nor that a third part of men is to perish; but that nation shall rise against nation [St. Matth. xxiv. 7]. 

Hippolytus in reply to him: It is not of angels he says that they are to go to war, but that four nations are to arise out of the region which is by Euphrates, and to come against the earth, and to war with mankind. But this that he says, four angels, is not alien from Scripture. Moses said, When He dispersed the sons of Adam, He set the boundary of the nations according to the number of the Angels of God [Deut. xxxii. 8 (LXX.)].

Since therefore nations have been assigned to angels, and each nation pertains to one angel, John rightly declared by the Revelation a loosing for those four angels: who are the Persians, and the Medes, and the Babylonians, and the Assyrians. Since then these angels who have been appointed over the nations have not been commanded to stir up those who have been assigned to them, a certain bond of the power of the word is indicated, which restrains them until the day shall arrive and the Lord of all shall command. And this then is to happen when Antichrist shall come.'

V. The fifth has a special importance, as touching on the matter of millennarian prediction.

[Rev. xx. 2. 3: 
And he laid hold on the dragon, the old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and 
bound him a thousand years, and cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him 
up and sealed the bottomless pit upon him, in order that he should not deceive 
the nations till the thousand years should be fulfilled: after that, he must be loosed 
a little season,
(Ms. Rich. 7185, f. 9v, line 8)

'On this Caius the heretic objected : that Satan is bound here, |403 according to that which is written, that Christ went up into the strong man's house and bound him, and spoiled his goods for us [St. Matth. xii. 29].

Hippolytus answered this and said : If the Devil has been bound, how does he deceive the faithful and persecute and plunder men ? And if you say that he has been bound as regards the faithful, how did he draw near against Christ, Him who aid no sin? according to the text, The Prince cometh and findeth no sin in me [St. John, xiv. 30 4]. And if then he has been bound, how did the Lord teach us to pray, that we should be delivered front the evil one [St. Matth. vi. 13] ? and why did he desire to tempt Simon and the Apostles [St. Luke, xxii. 31]? And how was one who had been bound able to sift and trouble the disciples [ib.]? 

And truly for us the conflict is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, and against the rulers of the darkness of this world [Eph. vi. 12]. If he had been bound, he would not maintain the conflict, or catch away the word which was sown [St. Matth. xiii. 19], as is said in the Parable of the Seed. That He has bound the strong man;5 the meaning of it is this : that He has rebuked and cast scorn on those who did not come unto Him when He went against the Devil in order to purify them from his bondage and make them sons unto the Father. 

And this is proved by what He said just after, that he that is not with me is against me, and he that gathereth not with me, scattereth abroad [St. Matth. xii. 30]. Accordingly, in the end of times, the Devil is to be bound and to be flung into the bottomless pit, when the Lord comes ; even as Esaias hath said, that the wicked shall be taken away in order that he see not the glory of the Lord [Isai. xxvi. 10----LXX. (Syr. Hex.)].5 

And the number of the years is not the number of days, but it represents the space of one day,5 glorious and perfect; in which, when the King comes in glory with His slain, the creation is to shine : according to the text, The sun shall shine twofold [marg., |404 sevenfold; Isai. xxx. 26]; while the righteous eat with Him and drink of His vine. This is the day which the Lord hath made [Ps. cxviii. 24], which David spoke of. 

Accordingly, when with the eye of the spirit John saw the glory of that day, he likened it to the space of a thousand years ; according to the saying, One day in the world of the righteous is as a thousand years [2 Pet. iii. 8 ?]. And by the number he shows that day to be perfect, for those that are faithful. 

But as for what he has said, that after the thousand years he shall be loosed, and shall deceive the nations [Rev. xx. 7, 8], it is this: that justly he is to be loosed, and to be cast into the burning, and to be judged [ib. 10, 12] ; with those who from old time were gathered together with him, when he gathered the strangers of the kingdom, and Gog and Magog [ib. 8].'


These passages are conclusive on the main question that has been in dispute concerning Caius. They prove that he refused to admit the Apocalypse as the work of St. John. And they prove that Hippolytus wrote a reply to the arguments by which Caius maintained his opinion. These arguments, we may assume, were put forth in a written treatise; and the purport of them appears to have been (so far as they are reported to us by Barsalibi), that the teaching of the Apocalypse, especially as regards its eschatology, is contradictory to that of our Lord, as reported in the Synoptic Gospels, and of St. Paul. Hence it follows that he rejects its claim, not merely to be the work of St. John, but to be an authentic part of the New Testament Canon. The work of Hippolytus whence Barsalibi derived his knowledge of this controversy was, no doubt, the Heads against Caius, mentioned by Ebediesu, which was evidently a distinct treatise from his Exposition of the Apocalypse and Gospel of St. John. The passages as they stand in Barsalibi's Commentary are, probably, not actual excerpts from the 'Heads'; they have the air rather of brief summaries of the arguments |405 on either side: those of Caius (whom it will be observed Barsalibi brands as a 'heretic') being stated in the barest possible form, while those of Hippolytus are given in more detail, yet highly compressed.

The objections of Caius are, as will be seen, those of a somewhat captious critic, and indicate little breadth of scriptural learning or of eschatological conceptions ; while the replies of his antagonist are not only fair ad hominem retorts, but display a large and thorough knowledge of his subject. But, on the other hand, it is observable that none of the objections at all resembles in character or tone the passage above cited (from Eusebius), in which Caius condemns the spurious 'revelations' which he accuses Cerinthus of attempting to pass off as the work of 'a great Apostle'; nor does any of them, in the remotest degree, answer to the account given by Dionysius of Alexandria of the attack made by certain unnamed writers on the canonical Revelation as being carnal in its promises of millennarian felicity. And this remark applies with especial force to the last of our five passages, which deals with the millennial binding of Satan [Rev. xx. 2, and following verses]. We may assume that if Caius not only denied the Revelation to be written by St. John, but ascribed it to Cerinthus, and interpreted the millennium it foreshows as being one of sensual joys, devised by an 'enemy of the Church of God who desired to deceive,' this would be the place where he would put forward that view. If so, it is not to be supposed that Hippolytus would leave so gross a misconstruction unrefuted; and it is, to say the least, improbable that Barsalibi would omit, in his summary of their controversy, to include this which would be obviously beyond comparison the most important and interesting part of it. But, instead of this, we find the point at issue between the two disputants to be merely whether Satan has or has not been already ' bound,' and therefore whether |406 it is or is not in accordance with our Lord's teaching to speak of the 'binding' as deferred till the millennium. Besides, the error which in his reply Hippolytus imputes to Caius is, not that he represented the millennium as sensual and unworthy, but merely that he understood the 'thousand years' literally, and not as denoting the spiritual fulness and perfection of ' the day which the Lord hath made.' And Hippolytus does not himself hesitate to speak of the righteous as 'eating and drinking' in that day with the Lord in His glory, without giving any hint that the promise of a grosser 'eating and drinking' had been attributed by Caius to the Apocalyptist.

It is hardly necessary to add that in none of these objections do we find any trace of doubt cast by Caius on the Johannine authorship of the Fourth Gospel. He does not, indeed, expressly cite any Gospel by name in any of these passages, and the texts he uses are from St. Matthew only. But it will be perceived that Hippolytus, in replying to him, once at least cites St. John's Gospel,6 evidently as an authority admitted by his opponent; and this fact of course excludes the supposition----for which, indeed, no ground exists----that Caius, like the Ἄλογοι of whom Epiphanius tells us (Haer. xxxi. [li.]), rejected that Gospel as well as the Apocalypse.

In the fourth passage, however, there occurs a point of contact between the views of Caius and those of the Alogoi, as stated by Epiphanius (ut supr.), as regards their objections against Rev. ix. 15. It extends, however, only so far as this, that he demurred, as they did, to the idea of angels 'making war';----not, however, because he found it ridiculous, as they professed to do, but because he regarded |407 it as unscriptural ('it is not written'). But it is highly interesting to compare the reply of Hippolytus to this objection, with the arguments with which Epiphanius refutes the Alogoi, the substance of which is as follows :----

'By the four angels he signifies the four nations who dwell by the Euphrates----the Assyrians, Babylonians, Medes, and Persians. . . That the nations are put in. charge of angels, Moses testifies . . . He set the boundaries of the nations after the number of the angels of God [Deut., as above]. The loosing of the angels implies, therefore, that these nations, after being for a while restrained in the longsuffering of God, are in due time to be let loose, stirred up by their several angels to work vengeance on such nations as have done despite to the saints of God.' 

Here, as will be seen, we have every one of the points put forward by Hippolytus reproduced. In both these passages we have the explanation of 'angels' as representing nations; in both the same passage of Deuteronomy is adduced in support of it; both name the same four nations; both represent the 'binding' as a delay of the vengeance of which these nations are to be the instruments, till God shall command; and the ' loosing,' as the signal given for its execution on the oppressors of His people. That Epiphanius here borrowed from Hippolytus there can be no question; and thus we draw from the comparison of these passages a striking confirmation of the ingenious and convincing theory of Lipsius (Quellenkritik des Epiphanios), who has made it practically certain that in this part of his Panarion Epiphanius (in common with Philaster, in his similar Treatise on Heresies) is borrowing from the lost Refutation of the Thirty-two Heresies of Hippolytus. The passage, as thus reproduced by Epiphanius, is not indeed identical with that translated by Barsalibi; but the agreement between them, in substance, is complete, and there is a close resemblance in diction (so far as the Syriac version of the |408 latter passage enables us to judge 7). And this is just the sort of affinity to be expected between two passages from different works by the same author.

The results at which the discovery of these passages has enabled us to arrive may be conveniently summed up as follows:----

1. They establish the separate identity of Caius, of whom hitherto so little has been certainly known, that Bishop Lightfoot was able to make out a strong case in favour of the hypothesis that Caius was but Hippolytus under a different name.8

2.  They prove that Caius (apparently in a written treatise----possibly his Dialogue against Proclus) rejected the Apocalypse from the New Testament Canon, as containing predictions, mainly eschatological, irreconcilable with the words of our Lord and the teaching of St. Paul.

3.  They prove that Hippolytus wrote a work in refutation of this view----probably the Heads against Caius, named by Ebediesu----

These conclusions are direct and certain; and it may be added as a safe inference from them----

4.  That Caius was not (as some have supposed), the author of the Muratorian Fragment, in which the Apocalypse is included in the Canon.

And it seems to follow, with scarcely less certainty----

5.  That Caius accepted the Fourth Gospel as St. John's.

6.  As a further result, we may add, that the theory of Lipsius concerning the relation between the Panarion of Epiphanius and the lost Refutation of the Thirty-two Heresies of Hippolytus, has received independent and strong confirmation from our fourth extract.

But the farther question, whether Caius went to such |409 lengths in his condemnation of the Apocalypse as to assign it to Cerinthus, is not decided by any of these extracts. It is, at least, a possible hypothesis that Cerinthus may have written a pseudo-Apocalypse, containing previsions of a millennium of carnal pleasures; and that Caius, in his anti-millennarian over-zeal, may have rejected both Apocalypses, the genuine and the spurious alike,----the former for

the reasons assigned in the Barsalibaean extracts, namely, that it contravened those Books of the New Testament which he accepted asbeyond question genuine----the latter on the ground stated in his Dialogue, as cited by Eusebius, that its promises were addressed to the baser part of man. It is unfortunate that the introduction prefixed by Barsalibi to this work has reached us in such a mutilated state that little light is thrown by it on the points which are in doubt. The fragment that remains of it merely exhibits a brief notice of the opinions for and against the Johannine authorship, the writers mentioned being Eusebius, Dionysius of Alexandria, Irenaeus, and Hippolytus. It breaks off in the middle of a sentence in which 'John the Presbyter' is suggested as the possible author.9

The MS. whence I have derived the Syriac text which I print at the end of this article was acquired by the British Museum, in 1830, as part of the Rich collection, and is classed as 'Rich 7185.' It is a small quarto, written on cotton paper, apparently of the fourteenth century. It |410 contains a series of brief commentaries on the Apocalypse, the Acts, the Catholic Epistles, and the Epistles of St. Paul, ending with Hebrews. The second and third leaves only are missing, but of the first leaf nearly half has been torn away, vertically. Its recto is blank, and its verso exhibits the superscription of the book, and the fragment above mentioned of the introduction. The fourth leaf (now numbered 2) begins in the middle of the comment on Rev. iv. 3. The first three chapters, including the Epistles to the Seven Churches, must therefore have been very briefly noticed, or (more probably) passed over without comment. In the Bodleian there is another, and perhaps earlier, copy of the same Commentary, in the MS. Bodl. Or. 560 (small folio, on cotton paper),10 which, however, has suffered far more severely from the effects of decay or injury. Several leaves are missing at the beginning, so that more than half the Commentary on the Apocalypse (which in this MS. likewise stands first ) 11 has perished, and of our five passages, the last only survives----that relating to Rev. xx. 2, 3. I have collated it, and find that its variations from the text of Rich 7185 are very minute. I have recorded them, so far as they are of any value, in the notes on that passage.

Except in the cases indicated in the notes, I have been content, in printing these extracts, to follow the MSS., without attempting to correct inconsistencies in the use of the diacritical and other points. |411 

[pp.411-416 containing Syriac text, and 417 (textual notes) are omitted]


[I have not thought it worth while to record the variations of Rich in transliterating the name Hippolytus.]


A few points of affinity between the foregoing extracts and the known writings of Hippolytus may be here noted.

(1). The replies to Caius, in I. and II., are paralleled by the discussion of Genesis xlix. 6, in the treatise De Consummatione Mundi, c. 19 ; where the argument turns similarly on the distinction between τὸ μερικὸν and τὸ καθ' ὅλου. (Lagarde, p. 103.)

(2). In V., the explanation of the "thousand years" harmonizes with (in fact, is implied in) the signification given to the "seventh day," in cc. 4-6 of the Chisian fragment of the Comm. in Danielem, and in both places the saying, "one day is as a thousand years," is adduced (with slight variation) (ib. p. 153.)

(3). In V., again, we find the same remarkable application of Isai. xxvi. 10 as in De Antichristo, c. 63 (ib. p. 33.)

(4). But on the other hand the interpretation of the binding of the "strong man" (St. Matth. xii. 29), in this same extract, does not well agree with the use of that text in Comm. in Dan., c. 18 (ib. p. 158.)


July, 1888.


Printed by PONSONBY and WELDRICK, Dublin.



IN a Paper which appeared in the last number of Hermathena (Vol. VI, pp. 397-418) I gave some extracts from the unpublished Commentary of Dionysius Barsalibi on the Apocalypse, being controversial passages which that writer professes to have derived from a treatise of Hippolytus----no doubt, his lost Heads against Caius. As a sequel to that Paper, I now offer another extract: from the same Commentary, purporting to contain a summary of the interpretation of the passage, St. Matth. xxiv. 15-22, given by Hippolytus, apparently in some other of his writings which has not reached us.

VI. It is as follows : ----

[Rev. xi. 2: 
And the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months

(Ms. Rich. 7185, f. 5v, line 10)

'(On this): The city is the Church ; and these months they are to persecute her and kill, when the false Christ [St. Matth. xxiv. 24] shall come, because she worships him not. Now of this said Daniel, He shall approve the covenant for many, one week; in the half of the week shall cease the sacrifice [Dan, ix. 27]. The half of the week: that is, three years and a-half; and these make the forty and two months which are mentioned. The sacrifice he speaks of is not that of sheep, but the prayers of the upright. And the holy city he speaks of is the righteous, i. e. [those] who are oppressed and trodden under foot by the horn that sprang up in the midst [Dan. vii. 8, 20, 21, 25], which is Antichrist, as Daniel said. 

Hippolytus 12 otherwise interprets that which is said in the Gospel, When indeed ye shall see the pollution of desolation [St. Matth. |138 xxiv. 15] : for he says that it is not concerning the Jews, and the laying waste of Jerusalem, that these things are said, but concerning the end of Antichrist. The elect [ib. 22] he speaks of are the Christians who are in this conflict. And He says, Pray that ye fly not on the Sabbath or in winter [ib. 20] : i. e. He advises that we be not overtaken by those things that are coming on us, when we are unoccupied in righteousness, as the Jews [are unoccupied] on the Sabbath, or troubled with worldly cares and sins, as one that is in a winter storm. There shall be tribulation such as there was not like it since the beginning of the world, etc. [ib. 21 ; cp. Dan. xii. 1]. 

On this Hippolytus says, that in the siege of Vespasian this did not come to pass; for nothing new happened to the world in his days beyond the things that were before. If you speak of war, many times it has happened in former times : and if again of captives, there have not lacked massacres or blood-shedding that was more than that [of the siege]. And if of the eating of children and unclean beasts, lo also in the days of Ahab 13 these things were [2 Kings, vi. 28]. Accordingly it is not concerning Jerusalem that the Lord said this; for when He willed to speak concerning her, He said, When ye shall see the army compassing the city, know that the desolation thereof is nigh [St. Luke, xxi. 20]. Hence the pollution of devastations He speaks of is Antichrist. And Daniel said, [In] the half of the week standeth the abomination in the sanctuary [Dan. ix. 27 ; cp. xi. 31]. Now "Vespasian did not set up in the temple an idol, but that Legion 14 which Trajanus Quintus placed, a chief man of the Romans : he set up the idol there which is called Kôre. |139 

Also the Apostle has written that these things are concerning Antichrist, Except if there come first a falling away, and the Man of iniquity be revealed, so that he as God shall sit in the temple, whom our Lord Jesus shall consume, etc. [2 Thess. ii. 3, 4, 8]. From these [words] it is evident that Vespasian did not call himself God, nor did he sit in the temple, nor was he killed by the Spirit of the Lord. Accordingly it is manifest that in the end tribulation arises against the Church, such as was none like it.'


[Rev. xi. 3: 
And I will give
power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy, etc.] 

'(On this :) There come two prophets, Enoch and Elias, and these are the two olive trees he speaks of [ib. 4], even as Zacharias spoke of them [Zech. iv. 3, 11, 14]. Now concerning Elias our Lord said, Elias must come to restore all things [St. Mark, ix. 12; cp. St. Matth. xvii. 11]. Of these he says that they work miracles and signs, and send plagues upon the unbelieving [Rev. xi. 5, 6], in order that the faithful may have some respite. These two prophets will stand up against Antichrist, even as Moses and Aaron stood up against Pharaoh and the Egyptians. These things then are to be in the half of the week, when Antichrist will scatter all men, so that there shall not be found two or three together to assemble, to offer sacrifice to God. This then is to be fulfilled, that the sacrifice shall cease. When then these are killed there [ib. 7] by the false Christ, afterwards they are to stand up, in presence of many, and are to be caught upon the clouds to meet our Lord [ib. 11, 12; 1 Thess. iv. 17]. In the half of the week, said John, Enoch and Elias are to receive power [ib. 6], and are to preach a thousand two hundred and threescore days girt with sackcloth [ib. 3], and to teach repentance to the people and the Gentiles. These days are the half of the week; and these are the two olive-trees and the two candlesticks (ib. 4), as Zacharias said, Enoch and Elias. And the beast that |140  ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them. And their dead bodies he shall cast into the streets, that is the highways, of the city [ib. 7, 8]. (On this :) Concerning this beast Daniel said, I saw indeed a beast that came up out of the bottomless pit, that is, the sea [Dan. vii. 3], and made war with the saints [ib. 21], which [beast] that horn which sprang up designates [ib. 8J. No other kingdom is to persecute the saints, save this alone from which the horn is to spring up at the last, which is Antichrist, who is to kill Enoch and Elias. And after these things that is to come to pass which Esaias said; Behold the Lord out of His sanctuary send-eth forth His sword, great and strong, against the dragon, the crooked serpent [Isaiah, xxvi. 21 ; xxvii. 1]: and in like manner said Daniel, The beast was killed and destroyed, and his body was given to the burning fire [Dan. vii. 11]. The body he speaks of is the devil, he who worketh [2 Thess. ii. 7, 9] in the false Christ : and the city he speaks of is Jerusalem, where these things are to come to pass. For Paul said concerning him who is Antichrist, He sitteth in the temple of God as God' 15

The foregoing extract, though continuously written in the MS. whence I take it, divides itself into two parts, the division being marked (as is usual in this MS.) by the sign x. It will be perceived that Hippolytus is cited by name in the |141 former of these parts only----that which relates to the second verse of Rev. xi. But (as I shall presently show) it is certain that in the latter part likewise the comment on the ten following verses (3-12) is in great measure drawn from Hippolytus. Besides, the line of interpretation that runs through both parts is continuous. For these reasons I have thought it well to give the whole. The Commentary has no further note on chapter xi., but passes on immediately to chapter xii.

On the second verse Barsalibi begins by explaining the 'treading underfoot' by the Gentiles of the 'holy city ' during 'forty and two months' to mean that in the latter days of the world the Church shall suffer persecution for three years and a half, which period he identifies with the 'half-week' foretold by Daniel (ix. 27); and the 'sacrifice caused to cease in the midst of the week,' signifies accordingly the suppression of the public prayers of the Church by the tyranny of Antichrist, when she will refuse to worship him. And he is the 'little horn' of the fourth of the beasts of Daniel's vision, who is to 'prevail against the saints' (Dan. vii. 8, 21). For so far the Commentary appears to follow the teaching of Hippolytus in the treatise De Christo et Antichristo (Lagarde, pp. 1-36). In that treatise it is laid down, as in the Commentary, that the 'horn' is Antichrist (ss. 28, 47 16); that the half-week of Daniel is the same as the period defined in this eleventh chapter of the Revelation (ss. 43, 47, 61), and that its completion is to be the end of all things (ib., & s. 64). But the discussion |142 which is subjoined, cited as from Hippolytus, of our Lord's eschatological prediction, recorded in the twenty-fourth chapter of St. Matthew's Gospel, and of St. Paul's, in the second chapter of his second Epistle to the Thessalonians, is not (so far as I know) to be found in any of his extant writings----though in the De Christo et Antichristo (ss. 62, 63) he inserts several verses of both chapters (St. Matth. xxiv. 15-19, & 21 ; 2 Thess. 11. 1-12 17], similarly connected together. It is natural to suppose that the citation is from the lost Commentary on Matthew, which St. Jerome mentions in the Prologue to his own Commentary on that Gospel. Indeed, this appears to be directly attested by the MS. of Barsalibi in the marginal note (quantum valeat) attached to the name of Hippolytus, which says, 'In the Commentary on the Gospel.' 18 The words with which Barsalibi introduces this discussion ('Hippolytus otherwise interprets . . .') imply that he regarded it as in some measure inconsistent with the preceding interpretation of Rev. xi. 2, which (as I have shown) is drawn from, or at least coincides with, that contained in the De Christo et Antichristo. But it is not easy to see any real inconsistency between them; and it may be that he only means to point out that of Daniel's two representations of Antichrist----the 'little horn' and the 'abomination of desolation '----Hippolytus has fixed on the former in the Treatise, and on the latter in the Commentary (or whatever work of his is here borrowed from). It is to be noted that though the texts of Daniel and St. Matthew, which speak of the 'abomination of desolation,' are cited in the De Christo et Antichristo (s. 62), and its appearance reckoned among |143 the signs of the end (64), it is nowhere in this Treatise identified with Antichrist.

I see no reason to doubt that we have here a genuine excerpt, probably in a condensed form, from a lost work of Hippolytus; though the identification of it as belonging to the Commentary on Matthew is but conjectural. It is of value as a clear and forcible summary of the reasons why the seige and destruction of Jerusalem under Vespasian cannot be regarded as adequately fulfilling the predictions of our Lord, or those of St. Paul, as we read them in the chapters referred to. It contains, moreover, an incidental statement which, if true, is an interesting addition to our knowledge of the history of the capture of the city. Josephus makes no mention of the setting up of an idol in the Temple, which Hippolytus here relates as the act of a Roman commander named Trajanus. But he mentions a Trajanus as being prefect of the tenth legion at the time when Jotapata was besieged (B. J., bk. III., chh. vii. 31, viii. 8), who may be presumed to be the same person. And the name of the idol, Kore, of course represents Κορή, 19 or Persephone, whose images, set up beside watersprings, were so familiar to Justin in the second century, probably in Palestine (Apol. 1. 64).

In the remaining part of my extract----that in which the next ten verses of the Revelation are commented on----the relation of the Commentary of Barsalibi to Hippolytus is closer. Not only is the identification of the 'two witnesses' as Enoch and Elias common to both, but in the terms in which the mission of the witnesses is expressed there is a striking coincidence. St. John has merely said, 'they shall prophesy,' which the Commentary expands |144  into, 'they are to preach . . . and to teach repentance to the people and the Gentiles.' This expansion is plainly derived from the words of the De Christo et Antichristo, 'They shall preach . . . proclaiming repentance to the people and all the Gentiles' (s. 43). There are, indeed, in the extract a few points which, so far as I am aware, are not to be found in any work of Hippolytus that has come down to us, for example, the curious explanation that the 'body of the beast' is the Devil. But that Barsalibi had the De Christo et Antichristo before him in the composition of his Commentary appears beyond question in many places. A conclusive instance is his comment on the latter verses of Rev. xiii., the greater part of which I find to be simply a translation, somewhat abridged, of the latter half of section 49 and the former half of section 50 of that treatise.

It may be well to note here that this mention of Enoch and Elias, and nearly all the other points above noted as connecting the Commentary with Hippolytus, appear also in the Homily De Consummatione mundi (Lagarde, pp. 92-123). But this Homily seems to be certainly spurious. I have inadvertently quoted it in my Paper in Hermathena xiv. (p. 418, suppl. note (1)), where I ought to have referred instead to the De Christo et Antichristo, s. 15 (Lagarde, p. 8).

I may add that a coincidence with the Hippolytean fragment V in that Paper, which I had overlooked, is to be found in the Commentary on Proverbs, printed by Mai (Nova Patrum Biblioth., t. vii. ii. p. 74), which is not included in Lagarde's Hippolytus. It is the comment on Prov. XXX. 19: Οὐδὲ ὁ διάβολος ἐπὶ σῶμα Χριστοῦ ἀμαρτίαν ἠδυνήθη εὑρεῖν· λέγει γὰρ ὁ κύριος· ἰδοὺ ἔρχεται ὁ ἄρχων τοῦ κόσμου τούτου, καὶ ἐν ἐμοὶ εὑρήσει οὐδέν. On this remarkable reading of St. John xiv. 30, see my note, ib. p. 417. 20 |145 

VIII. The accompanying autotype [omitted from the online text] reproduces faithfully the mutilated first page of the MS. Rich 7185. The first eight lines contain the superscription (written in vermilion). Lines 1 and 2 are as follows: 

'On God [relying] we delay not to write extracts from the interpretation of the Revelation of John, a small portion . . .' 

Of the six following I can only decipher a word here and there. Among them, however, I find 

'Dionysius [Bishop of] the city Amid.' 

This identifies the author as Dionysius Barsalibi, who occupied that See from A.D. 1166 to 1171.21 It appears, moreover, that in the MS. we have not his Commentary on the Apocalypse 22 in full, but only a series of excerpts from it.

The remainder of the page (twenty lines in all) is |146 written in black ink. The page is so mutilated that the opening words of every line of it are lost, except of the first four. Lines 9 and 10 appear to speak of the brevity of this Commentary as compared with the fuller one on the Gospel. Lines 11 and 12 ask the reader's prayers for Dionysius Xenaias [?]. In line 13 begins the discussion of the authorship of the book. The substance of the remaining lines (14-28), mutilated as they are, may be made out to this effect:----

'Many have denied that the Revelation is the work of John the Apostle. Eusebius of Csesarea quotes [Diony]sius of Alexandria, who argues that it is written by some other John, because the style is unlike that of the Gospel, and because the writer [not as in the Gospel] gives his name, and claims to have received his revelation from the Lord. Irenaeus and Hippolytus ascribe it to John the Evangelist, writing in the reign of Domitian : but [Eusebius] to John the Presbyter, contemporary of the Apostle.' 

[See Euseb. H. E. iii. 39; vii. 25.]

[Pages 147-150 containing Syriac text omitted]



[T.H. ROBINSON, in The Expositor]

The Muratorian Canon is our oldest list of the books of the New Testament. It is a fragment discovered in the Ambrosian library at Milan, and published in 1740 by the librarian Muratori, from whom it takes its name. His object was to give an example of the kind of Latin an ignorant monk could write, but it was soon seen that the document had a very great intrinsic importance, due to the professed antiquity of the Canon of New Testament writings which it contains. Pius, who was bishop of Rome from 146-161 a.d., is mentioned as being almost a contemporary of the author. As it stands, the fragment is anonymous; and, of course, several attempts have been made to identify the author. Muratori himself suggested "Gaius the Presbyter," of whom Eusebius says : "There has come down also to our time a dialogue by the eloquent Gaius, which was addressed at Rome in the time of Zephyrinus, to Proclus, the champion of the Phrygian heresy. He, Gaius, rebukes the precipitancy and rashness of the opposite party in the matter of composing new scriptures, and mentions only the thirteen epistles as belonging to the blessed Apostle, not including the Epistle to the Hebrews with the rest; so also, even to the present day, there are some in Rome who do not regard it as being the Apostle's."

This was, for a time, practically the sum of our knowledge and the limit of critical speculation concerning Gaius. Then came the discovery of a work entitled, |482 The Philosophumena, a Refutation of all Heresies. This was attributed to Origen by the first editor on its publication in 1851, and subsequently, by certain critics, to the Gaius in question, together with a number of other works belonging to the second century.

It is, however, perfectly certain that this document is the work not of Gaius, but of Hippolytus. And Lightfoot took the various lesser books which had been ascribed to Gaius, and showed that they also were to be regarded as writings of Hippolytus (Apost. Fath., part i. vol. ii. pp. 378-380). He was, however, unable thus to explain away the Dialogue with Proclus, except by supposing that Proclus and Gaius alike were mere dramatis personae, with no more solid basis for existence than Hippolytus' imagination. Some later authors, finding a book Gaius against Proclus, had, he assumed, deduced from it Gaius' reality.

Now if Gaius was a mere lay figure, Muratori's connexion between Gaius and the fragmentary Canon disappears, unless we reserve the case that the fragment is a part of the speech of the assumed Gaius against the imaginary Proclus. And, as all Gaius' other works had been attributed to Hippolytus, it was natural that this should go the way of the rest. The question then arose, to which of the Hippolytean writings did it belong? It is certainly not in any of his extant works, but we have several lists of his writings preserved, and from the titles it may be possible to infer to which of them a Canon of the books of the New Testament should be referred. The oldest of these lists is an inscription on the statue of Hippolytus, which is now preserved in the Lateran Museum. The statue dates from the first half of the third century, and represents the recently deceased Hippolytus as seated in his episcopal cathedra. On the back of his chair there is a list of his works, and Lightfoot quotes the inscription in full. This gives very nearly a complete |483 catalogue; though it omits several books to which other writers refer. Eusebius' catalogue (H.E. vi. 22) does not profess to be complete, nor does it throw any fresh light. That of the fourteenth century Syrian father, Ebed-Jesu, does, however, include a title which we should not have known from other sources, for it mentions two works noted on the chair---- ὑπὲρ τοῦ κατὰ Ἰωάνην εὐαγγελίου καὶ ἀποκαλύψεως, and just before them inserts, "And chapters against Gaius." Lightfoot guessed----and, as we shall try to show, the guess was a correct one,----that there was some intimate connexion between this work and the two apologetic treatises, suspecting that it was composed of extracts taken from them.

To return to the Canon itself. Lightfoot not unnaturally attempted to discover the original Greek that lay behind Muratori's text, and his first effort showed that some of the Latin went naturally into Greek Iambics, and it was possible to retranslate the whole into verse. It is true that there were certain metrical licences, but, as Lightfoot pointed out, they were frequently surpassed by writers of the same age. Now near the end of one of the lists of Hippolytus' works was an item entitled ᾠδαὶ εἰς πάσας τὰς γραφάς. This was suspected to be a metrical account of the books of the Old and the New Testaments, The first part of this was assumed to have perished, but possibly the second survives in a mutilated form in the Muratorian Canon.

This, then, is a brief outline of the position in which Lightfoot left the study of this fragment. The next phase began with the discovery of a MS. of a commentary on the Apo-calypse by Dionysius Bar Salibi, a Syrian father of the twelfth century. The MS. is in the British Museum (Add. 7185), and was there studied by Dr. Gwynn of Dublin.

Dr. Gwynn published the results of his investigations in Hermathena (vol. vi. pp. 397-418). He found in the MS. |484 in question five passages where Bar Salibi quotes from a work of Hippolytus against Gaius. The quotations are introduced with a brief objection by the "heretic" Gaius, who insists in each case that the teaching of the Apocalypse is not in accord with the teaching of Jesus and the Apostles. The answer of Hippolytus is given in a condensed form----as, indeed, are nearly all Bar Salibi's quotations from other authors. From these passages Dr. Gwynn deduces three direct and certain conclusions.

1.  They establish the separate existence of Gaius, thus refuting the view of his identity with Hippolytus which Lightfoot had put forward.

2.  Gaius rejected the Apocalypse on the ground stated above.

3.  Hippolytus wrote a work in refutation of this view. This, Dr. Gwynn thinks, is not the same as the Apology for the Apocalypse and the Gospel. (But Dr. Gwynn translates the Syriac words "mappaq berucha" as "Exposition," although the usual rendering is that of Lightfoot, "Apology.")

To these he adds, as a safe inference, that the Muratorian Canon was not the work of Gaius, since the Canon includes the Apocalypse, while Gaius rejected it. It also seemed equally certain to Dr. Gwynn that Gaius accepted the Fourth Gospel. This is due to the fact that Hippolytus quoted it against him, and was unlikely to appeal to a disputed book. Further, one of the passages quoted proves that Epiphanius knew and used the same work that Bar Salibi employed in this Commentary. This work Dr. Gwynn believed to be the lost " Refutation of the thirty-two heresies," which is now identified with the Philosophumena.

The next step was taken by Rendel Harris, in a paper read before the Society for Historical Theology in November, 1895. Dr. Harris has since published this essay (Presbyter |485 Gaius and the Fourth Gospel) in a small volume, entitled Hermas in Arcadia. Working on the same material as Dr. Gwynn, the Cambridge scholar found himself able to go further in his knowledge of Gaius, and succeeded in explaining one of the difficulties which hindered our acceptance of the view that Gaius attributed the Apocalypse to Cerinthus. He was also able to show, from Bar Salibi's commentary on the Fourth Gospel, that Gaius had denied the Johannine authorship of that book in just the same way as he criticised the Apocalypse. Dr. Harris goes on to suggest, by a reference to the passage in Epiphanius already cited by Gwynn, that Gaius was one, perhaps the leader, of the heretics known as the Alogi. It is strange to find that Harnack (Chronologie der altchristlichen Litteratur, p. 227) still refuses to admit that Gaius rejected the Gospel of John, on the ground that Eusebius could not have described him as being ἐκκλησιαστικὸς ἀνήρ (H.E. ii. 25). This is certainly a difficulty; but in the face of the overwhelming evidence which we now have to the contrary, we can no longer agree with Gwynn and Harnack on this point.

Dr. Gwynn (Hermathena, vi. p. 410) notes with regret that there are two leaves missing from the MS. of Bar Salibi on the Apocalypse in the British Museum. Fortunately a MS. of this work has been discovered in the Tur 'Abdin, and a transcript has found its way into the collection of Rendel Harris. This MS. is complete, and by one of those strange tricks of fortune which are at once the hope and the despair of the critic, the missing pages contain the solutions of some of the problems which centre round Gaius, Hippolytus and the Muratorian Canon.

The keys that have been already filed will go far towards opening the door; but it is only within the last few months that the exact piece of metal has been found which will fit the lock without further manipulation. This is true, at any |486 rate, as far as the authorship of the Muratorian Canon is concerned; and there are one or two other problems whose answer is given with certainty.

Bar Salibi is a good scholar and a sound critic, and well repays study. The introduction 23 to the Commentary on the Apocalypse is so interesting that it will be well worth quoting at some length :----


..."Now that we have finished the exposition of the Gospel, brethren, fully and very clearly, we come and approach the exposition of the Revelation of John the Evangelist. But do you, readers, with the students of the spiritual enquiries maintain your prayers for Dionysius the stranger, according as you also will be saved. At the beginning of the treatise we must say that there are many teachers who are in doubt regarding the Revelation of John, and say that it is not his. And Eusebius of Caesarea declares the same thing in his ecclesiastical writings (i.e. in the History of the Church). For Dionysius, bishop of Alexandria, says that the Revelation was not that of John the Apostle, but of another John, 'the Presbyter,' who lived in Asia. The reason is, that the style of the Revelation is not like the type of the language of the Gospel. Also John makes no mention of his name at all in the Gospel, but does put his name at the beginning and end of the Revelation. Now we agree that he received the Revelation of which he wrote from our Lord. Irenaeus the bishop, and Hippolytus of Bozra say that the Revelation is that of John the Evangelist, and that it was granted about the end of the reign of Domitian. And Eusebius of Caesarea agrees with this, but immediately says that some do not accept it as being the Revelation of John the Apostle,24 so saying that |487 it is the work of John the Elder, who was a contemporary of John the Apostle. And there are two tombs in Asia, one being that of the Evangelist, the other that of John the Elder.

Hippolytus of Rome states that a man named Gaius had appeared, who said that neither the Gospel nor yet the Revelation was John's; but that they were the work of Cerinthus the heretic. And the blessed Hippolytus opposed this Gaius, and showed that the teaching of John in the Gospel and Revelation was different from that of Cerinthus. "This Cerinthus was one who taught circumcision, and was angry with Paul when he did not circumcise Titus, and the Apostle calls him and his disciples in one of his letters 25 'sham apostles, crafty workers.' Again he teaches that the world was created by angels, and that our Lord was not born of a virgin. He also teaches carnal eating and drinking,26 and many other blasphemies. The Gospel and Revelation of John, however, are like the teaching which the Scriptures contain; and so they are liars who say that the Revelation is not by the Apostle John." And we agree with Hippolytus that the Revelation is the Evangelist John's. This is attested by S. Cyril and Mar Severus, and all the teachers who bring evidence from it. Also the Theologian,27 in his 'Address to the Nation,' testifies that there is no proof from the conclusion,28 and says, 'as John taught me by his Revelation; He made a way for thy people, and these stones'----where he calls the heretics and their teaching stones."

This is good criticism, and we shall want it again. In the meantime, Bar Salibi plunges at once into exposition :---- |488 

"The Revelation of Jesus Christ, etc.----Hence he begins with that which was revealed to him in a vision concerning those things which were about to be.

To His servant John.----He records his name in the Revelation that we may believe what he saw. In the Gospel he does not record his name, because there was no need for it there, since all the Apostles were witnesses of what our Lord did.

John to the seven Churches which are in Asia.----By Churches, he indicates cities, and calls them Churches because of the excellence of the elect who were in them. He says "seven," because the number seven was in high esteem among the Hebrews in the Scriptures. And there are seven gifts of One Spirit descending on one Church. Hippolytus says that in writing to seven Churches, he writes just as Paul wrote thirteen letters, but wrote them to seven Churches. That to the Hebrews he does not judge to be Paul's, but perhaps Clement's."

We have gone far enough. We have heard something like this before. "Cum ipse beatus Apostolus Paulus sequens prodecessoris sui Johannis ordinem nonnisi nominatim septem ecclesiis scribat ordine tali:----ad Corinthios prima, ad Ephesios secunda, ad Philippenses tertia, ad Colossenses quarta, ad Galatos quinta, ad Thessalonicenses sexta, ad Romanos septima. Verum Corintheis et Thessalonicensibus licet pro correptione iteretur, una tamen per omnem orbem terrae ecclesia diffusa esse denoscitur, et Johannis enim in Apocalypsi licet septem ecclesiis scribat, tamen omnibus dicit." So runs the fragment of Muratori. What are we to say?

Muratori's own guess as to the Gaian authorship of this fragment is at any rate proved to be impossible by the above quotation from Bar Salibi. For the Canon accepts both the Apocalypse and the Fourth Gospel as being |489 Johannine; Gaius accepted neither. But the mention of Pius seems to prove that the Canon is at least of the age of Hippolytus and Gaius. The probabilities were, before, on the side of the Hippolytean authorship; it looks as though they were considerably strengthened. It is obvious, however, that Bar Salibi is not quoting exactly, and, unfortunately, we have no means of testing his other quotations from Hippolytus, unless Epiphanius be allowed to represent Hippolytus more closely. But we can compare his references to Eusebius with that author's Syriac text, and the result we reach is the certainty that Bar Salibi's quotations are not necessarily verbal. He only means to reproduce the thought. This being so, we shall have no longer any hesitation in saying that our Syrian Father is quoting the Muratorian Canon as being the work of Hippolytus. The proof is not mathematical, but there seems to be no real objection on a priori grounds; so that there is now as strong a presumption as criticism ever needs, and a much stronger one than it usually finds. If the scale pans wavered at all before, this extra weight will carry them down with a run.

But we now have a further light on the Canon itself. The omission of the Epistle to the Hebrews has puzzled every one, Westcott included. The Canon, however, is universally admitted to be incomplete, and its testimony to the fourteenth "Pauline" epistle would have been most valuable. We have no other indication of Hippolytus' views on the authorship beyond the bare fact that he did not regard it as Paul's. Origen and Eusebius both report that some people have regarded it as being the work of Clement of Rome. Now for the first time we have a name attached to that suggestion, and while we feel that the Clementine authorship is out of the question, it is interesting to note that it had such respectable support as that of Hippolytus in his Canon. |490 

So we come to a further question. What is the work of which this document forms a part? Lightfoot, finding that he was able to write it in Greek verse, suggested the "Odes on all the Scriptures." And this indeed seems at first sight a very suitable place for the Canon. But a scholar of Lightfoot's calibre would probably have little difficulty in rendering any Latin into Greek Iambics, and even if it were originally metrical, it need not have formed a part of the Odes. And we shall find reason to assign it differently.

In the first place we have to notice that this is not a mere guess on Bar Salibi's part. He knows what he is quoting and he knows its source. It follows from his familiarity with the author that he is familiar with the work containing the passage. Now, so far, we have only detected one single work of Hippolytus on Bar Salibi's bookshelf. This is the work against Gaius which Dr. Gwynn has referred to the Refutation of the thirty-two Heresies, and Lightfoot to the Apology for the Apocalypse and Gospel of John. The recognition of the Refutation under its pseudonym of Philosophumena contradicts the theory of the Irish critic. He was unable to accept Lightfoot's identification of the "chapters against Gaius" with the Apology, because he believed that Gaius accepted the Fourth Gospel, and Hippolytus was evidently opposing some one who rejected it. The passage cited from Bar Salibi proves conclusively that Gaius did not regard John as the author of the Fourth Gospel. He is in the critical position of the "Alogi," and we feel ourselves justified in regarding him as their leader and the principal object of Hippolytus' attack. It is still difficult to explain Eusebius' respect for Gaius, and we do not quite understand how Hippolytus could quote against him from the Fourth Gospel. But we feel that although these objections would have weight in the absence of other evidence, they cannot be allowed to |491 stand in face of the direct and positive testimony of Bar Salibi.

The removal of this objection leaves open the way for the other hypothesis----that there is an essential connexion between the "chapters against Gaius" and the Apology for the Apocalypse and Gospel of John. It may be noted that it is not at all improbable that this was what Ebed Jesu intended to imply in his catalogue of Hippolytus' works. A very brief acquaintance with the ways of Syriac scribes justifies us in omitting a conjunction, or at least in suspecting its presence. And in all probability Ebed Jesu intended to write first the full title of the work and then denote two of its sections, one concerned with the Apocalypse, the other with the Fourth Gospel. This view is strongly supported by the way in which the combatants are introduced by Bar Salibi. "The blessed Hippolytus," he says, "opposed this Gaius"----qam luqbal hana Gaius----a phrase so like the title of Hippolytus' work "rishe luqbal Gaius " as to justify us in regarding it as a reminiscence thereof. Lightfoot may have felt that Bar Salibi had robbed him of a favourite theory by proving the existence of Gaius ; he has now every reason for gratitude, for on two points, the authorship of the Muratorian Canon and the identity of the "chapters against Gaius," the Syrian Father has unexpectedly vindicated two out of the English critic's series of conjectures.

Now, this being the only work of Hippolytus which we have found in Bar Salibi's hands, the law of parsimony of causes compels us to attribute all quotations from this author to the same document unless we have some fairly strong evidence to the contrary. And an examination of the evidence seems to lead to a conclusion which confirms our first impression. We are now at liberty to use the Canon itself in order to determine its place in |492 Hippolytus' writings. And near the beginning we certainly find a most illuminating passage : 

"Primum omnium Corinthiis schisma haeresis interdicens, deinceps Galatis circumcisionem, Romanis autem ordinem scripturarum, sed et principium earum esse Christum intimans, prolixius scripsit. De quibus singulis necesse est a nobis disputari." 

So little has this passage been understood that some editors have even inserted "non" before "necesse." Needless to say, this has no foundation in the MS. and it leaves the passage really more inexplicable than ever. For why should these three epistles be especially mentioned if there is no need to discuss them? The very fact of their selection here shows, as Tregelles saw, that this Canon must have stood at the head of a controversial work. The points of difference will be :----

1.  Heresy.

2.  Circumcision.

3.  Canonicity of certain books of Scripture.

4.  Christology.

The word "ordinem" offers a difficulty. Its use in the first passage cited----a list of the Pauline Epistles----shows that it does not mean a definite orderly sequence. And it seems to have been the earliest translation of the idea expressed in the Greek ecclesiastical language by κάνων, " Canon," as a Latin word is not quoted in this sense before Augustine, while Quintilian (1, 4, 3) uses "ordo" with almost the same meaning: "Grammatici alios auctores in ordinem redigerunt, alios omnino exemerant numero." We recognize, therefore, that it is not simply the order of the books of the Scriptures, but a list of those which they oontain. Moreover, there would be little point in discussing the sequence of the books of Scripture in a treatise which involved the other matters; and as a matter of fact the sequence is immediately set at nought. |493 

Hippolytus' meaning in this extract is clear. He points out how Paul had found it necessary to face and solve certain problems in certain of his Epistles. He remarks that he is faced with the same questions, and will have to discuss these same matters. The connexion in subject between this passage and Bar Salibi's quotation from Hippolytus is abundantly clear.

This Cerinthus was one who taught circumcision, and was angry with Paul because he did not circumcise Titus, and the Apostle calls him and his disciples in one of his letters "Sham apostles." ... Again he teaches that the world was created by angels and that our Lord was not born of a virgin. He also teaches carnal eating and drinking and many other blasphemies."

Primum omnium Corinthiis schisma haeresis interdicens, deinceps Galatis circumcisionem; Romania autem ordinem scripturarum sed et principium earum esse Christum intimans prolixius scripsit. De quibus singulis necesse est a nobis disputari.

The parallel between the various subjects is easily seen when it is remembered that Bar Salibi does not mean to quote exactly. The question then arises, To which of Hippolytus' works is the passage to be referred? The natural answer is, The Philosophumena; but we have that work, and the passages concerned with Cerinthus make no mention of his Judaizing tendency. The Chapters against Gaius, however, must have contained sections on all the questions raised in the above citation from the Canon, because they are the points on which Cerinthus differs from the Scriptures. It is by enumerating and discussing such points, as Bar Salibi tells us, that Hippolytus refutes Gaius' objection to the Apocalypse and Fourth Gospel. It becomes clear, therefore, that the most suitable suggestion for the source of this Canon is the book entitled Chapters against Gaius. |494 

One more point may be brought forward. Can we be sure that this Cerinthus passage in Hippolytus comes from the same work as the other answers to Gaius? If it does, we may be fairly sure that our guess is right, and we have reached a point between probability and certainty. For this it is only necessary to turn to that arch-plagiarist, Epiphanius. Dr. Gwynn and Rendel Harris have already shown that he knew and quoted the "Heads against Gaius," and indeed, that his work is largely based on Hippolytus. We come to him with assurance, and find our expectations fully met, in the article on Cerinthus in Epiphanius' work on Heresies. The following extracts will make this sufficiently clear :----


Patr. Gr., vol. 41, col. 377.

"The world was created by angels, and our Lord was not born of a virgin." ἐξηγεῖται καὶ οὗτος ἐκ Μαρίας καὶ ἐκ σπέρματος Ἰωσὴφ τὸν Χριστὸν γεγεννῆσ-θαι, καὶ τὸν κόσμον ὁμοίως 29 ὑπὸ ἀγγέλων γεγενῆσθαι.

Col. 381.

"This Cerinthus was one who taught circumcision, and was angry with Paul because he did not circumcise Titus."

ἀλλὰ ταῦτα μὲν τότε ἐπραγματεύθη κινηθέντα ὑπὸ τοῦ προειρημένου ψευδαποστόλου Κηρίνθου· ὅς καὶ ἄλλοτε στάσιν αὐτός τε καὶ οἱ μετ' αυτοῦ εἰργάσαντο ἐν αὐτῇ τῇ Ἰερουσαλήμ, ὁπηνίκα Παῦλος ἀνῆλθε μετὰ Τίτου, ὡς καὶ αὐτὸς ἔφη, ὅτι ἄνδρας ἀκροβύστους εἰσήνεγκε μεθ' ἑαυτοῦ, ἤδη περὶ τούτου λέγων, κεκοίνηκε, φησὶ, τὸν ἅγιον τόπον. διὸ καὶ Παῦλος λέγει· Ἀλλ' οὐδὲ Τίτος κ.τ.λ. (there follows a quotation taken from Gal. ii. 3-5).

Finally, a decisive passage :—

Col. 384.

"The Apostle calls him and his disciples, 'Sham apostles, crafty workers.'" καὶ οὗτοι εἰσὶν οἱ παρὰ τῷ Παύλῳ εἰρημένοι ψευδαπόστολοι, ἐργάται δόλιοι μετασχηματιζόμενοι εἰς ἀποστόλους Χριστου.

|495 This does not claim to be more than a preliminary discussion of the subject. A fuller investigation of the questions involved is reserved for the publication of Bar Salibi's Commentary on the Apocalypse. It may be possible, however, to sum up our results. We may regard as practically certain the following :----

1.  The fact that the Muratorian Canon is the work of Hippolytus.

2.  The identity of the Chapters against Gaius with the Apology for the Apocalypse and Gospel of John. Incidentally we may regard it as proved that Gaius really existed.

3.  The free use made by Epiphanius of the Heads against Gaius. This is one of the subjects that needs further inquiry, and will probably throw no small light on the history of the Church at the end of the second century.

These results may be held to be certain. To them we may add as being highly probable, though not of the same order of probability as the others :----

4.  The Muratorian Canon stood at or near the beginning of the treatise against Gaius in which Hippolytus defended the Johannine authorship of the Apocalypse and Fourth Gospel.

Theodore H. ROBINSON.

Notes from the Commentary on the four gospels

[Roger Pearse]

This material was composed and placed online after a discussion in an online forum, provoked by the question, 

"What are our (ancient) sources for the datum that Gaius, presbyter of Rome, attacked the fourth gospel and the apocalypse of John?"

The answer given was:

 No single source combines all those details in one place. Rather, it is a conclusion reached by coordinating different ancient and medieval sources, including: Irenaeus, AH 3.11.9; Eusebius, HE 6.20.1-3 and 7.25.2; Epiphanius, Pan 51; Photius, Bibl; and Dionysius bar Salibi, In Apoc at Rev 8:8, 12, 9:2-3, 15, and 20:2-3.

These sources are collected, quoted, discussed, and criticized by Charles E. Hill, The Johannine Corpus in the Early Church (Oxford: University Press, 2004), 172-204.

I found from Sebastian Brock, A brief outline of Syriac literature,Moran Etho 9, Kottayam (1997), that Dionysius (or Jacob) Bar Salibi (aka Dionysius Syrus) died in 1197 AD, and was a monophysite author. From W. Wright, A short history of Syriac Literature (A&C Black, 1894, reprint. Gorgias 2001) I learn that copious extracts from his commentary on the NT were translated in to Latin; there are, in fact, English translations of portions of the commentary on the gospels (tr. Loftus, 1672, 1695), and on revelation (tr. J. Gwyn, Hermathena 6, p.397ff, and 7, p.137ff, the latter containing extracts from Hippolytus on Matthew; the journal started in 1873).

Hill, based Pierre Prigent (Hippolyte, Commentateur de l'Apocalypse, in Theologische Zeitschrift 28, 1972, pages 391-412; Les Fragments du De Apocalypse d'Hippolyte, in Theologische Zeitschrift 29, 1973, pages 313-333; Citations d'Hippolyte trouvée dans le ms. Bodl. Syr 140, in Theologische Zeitschrift 30, 1974, pages 82-85, with R. Stehly) and Allen Brent (Hippolytus and the Roman Church in the Third Century, Supplement to Vigilae christianae 31, 1995), argued that Bar Salibi in fact did not possess the so-called Heads against Caius, but rather a florilegium of Hippolytan extracts that included legendary embellishments.  

Bar Salibi, On the Apocalypse

This work has been printed, with a Latin translation, by Sedlacek. His Latin translation of the introduction to the Apocalypse reads:

Postquam enim absolvimus expositionem Evangelii, o frater noster, fuse et lucidissime, parati sumus aggredi explicationem Apocalypsis Iohannis evangelistae. Vos autem lectores, cum incitatoribus petitionum spiritualium, orationes emittite pro Dionysio peregrino, ut et vos sanemini.

Initio sermonis dicimus multos magistros dubitavisse de Apocalypsi Iohannis et dixisse eam ipsius non esse. Et hoc exponit Eusebius Caesaraeensis in libro eqlisiastiqi seu Historiarum ecciesiasticarum. Dicit enim Dionysius, episcopus Alexandriae: Apocalypsis non est Iohannis apostoli, sed Iohannis alius, presbyteri, qui habitabat in Asia; nam non est similis typus, id est species sermonis, Evangelii et Apocalypsis. Et Iohannes nullibi in Evangelio commemoravit suum nomen; hic vero, initio et fine Apocalypsis posuit nomen suum. Et a Domino nostro accepisse revelationem eum, qui eam scripsit, profitemur. Irenaeus episcopus et Hippolytus Bosrae dicunt Apocalypsim Iohannis evangelistae esse et sub finem regni Domitiani ipsi revelatam esse. Etiam Eusebius Caesaraeensis his assentit at statim dicit: Si quis non admittit Apocalypsim esse Iohannis apostoli, evangelistae, dicimus: ergo est Iohannis presbyteri, qui tempore Iohannis apostoli extitit. Et duo sunt sepulcra in Asia, unum evangelistae et alterum Iohannis presbyteri.

Hippolytus Romanus dixit: Apparuit vir, nomine Caius, qui asserebat Evangelium non esse Iohannis, nec Apocalypsim, sed Cerinthi haeretici ea esse. Et contra hunc Caium surrexit beatus Hippolytus et demonstravit aliam esse doctrinam Iohannis, in Evangelio et in Apocalypsi, et aliam Cerinthi.

Ille quidem Cerinthus docebat circumcisionem, et iratus est in Paulum, quod non circumciderat Titum, et vocat apostolum eiusque discipulos in quadam e suis epistulis “apostolos falsos et operarios fallaces”. Docebat etiam mundum ab angelis creatum esse; et non e virgine Dominum nostrum natum esse, et cibum et potum materiales, et multas blasphemias.

Evangelium et Apocalypsis Iohannis mentem Scripturarum sequuntur; ergo mendaces sunt qui dicunt Apocalypsim non esse Iohannis apostoli. Nos autem Hippolyto assentimur. Etiam Iohannis evangelistae esse Apocalypsim testatur s. Cyrillus, et Mar Severus et omnes Doctores qui adducunt testimonia in libris suis, sed etiam Theologus in oratione valedictoria ab eo adducit argumentum et dicit: “Quemadmodum docet me Iohannes per revelationem suam: ‘Auferte viam populo meo; et hos lapides’ . . .”, cum “lapides” haereticos et doctrinam eorum vocat.


After in fact we finished the exposition of the gospels, o our brother, on a grand scale and very clearly, we were prepared to attempt an explication of the Apocalypse of John the Evangelist. However you, dear readers, with those who incite spiritual petitions, please utter prayers on behalf of Dionysius the pilgrim, so that you also may be saved.

In the beginning of the text, we say that many masters have doubted concerning the Apocalpyse of John and said that it is not his. And this Eusebius of Caesarea expounds in the book The Church or The Church History. For Dionysius, bishop of Alexandria says: The Apocalypse is not by the apostle John, but by another John, a presbyter, who used to live in Asia; for they are not of the same type, that is species of text, in the Gospel and the Apocalypse. And John nowhere in the Gospel mentions his name; but here, at the start and end of the Apocalypse he gives his name. And we declare that we have received from our Lord his revelation, who wrote it. Bishop Irenaeus and Hippolytus of Bosra say that the Apocalypse is by John the Evangelist and was revealed to him at the end of the reign of Domitian. Also Eusebius of Caesarea assents to these things and immediately says: If anyone does not admit that the Apocalypse is by John the apostle, the evangelist, we say: therefore it is by John the presbyter, who lived in the time of John the apostle. And there are two sepulchers in Asia, one of the evangelist and the other of the presbyter John.

Hippolytus of Rome said : A man appeared, by name Caius, who used to assert that the Gospel was not by John, nor the Apocalypse, but that they are by the heretic Cerinthus. And against this Caius the blessed Hippolytus rose up and demonstrated that the teaching of John, in the Gospel and in the Apocalypse, was one thing, and that of Cerinthus another.

This Cerinthus indeed used to teach circumcision, and was angry against Paul, because he did not circumcise Titus, and he calls the apostle and his disciples in some of his letters "false apostles and workers-for-hire". He also used to teach that the world was created by angels; and that our Lord was not born from a virgin, and the importance (?) of food and drink, and many blasphemies.

The Gospel and Apocalypse of John [both?] follow the plan of the Scriptures ; therefore they are liars who say that the Apocalypse is not by John the apostle. However we agree with Hippolytus. Also there testify that the Apocalypse is by John the evangelist: St.Cyril, and Mar Severus, and all the Doctors [of the church], who adduce witnesses in their books, but also [Gregory] Theologus in the valedictory oration adduces an argument from this and says: "In the way that John teaches me by his revelation: 'take away the way from my people and these stones'…", where he calls heretics and their doctrine "stones".
(Cyril=Cyril of Alexandria, Mar Severus = Severus of Antioch, Theologus = Gregory Nazianzen).

Bar-Salibi, Commentary on the Four Gospels

Charles E. Hill mentioned that further information about Gaius was available from a further work of Dionysius, although his comments were rather too compressed:

Another advance, however, came in 1895, when Rendel Harris reported the existence of another fragment from bar Salibi, this one in a Latin translation made by Dudley Loftus in the seventeenth century (Bodleian Fell 6 and 7) from a now lost Syriac manuscript of bar Salibi's Commentary on the Gospel of John. In this work Gaius is recorded as criticizing the author of the Fourth Gospel with one of the same objections which Epiphanius had attributed to the Alogi.[22] 'A certain heretic Gaius criticized John because he did not agree with his fellow evangelists who say [emend to: in that he says] that after the baptism he went to Galilee and performed the miracle of the wine at Cana' (John 2:1-11).[23]

This, at last, appeared to establish that Gaius had also opposed the Fourth Gospel—though doubts were still possible for the sceptic, for Loftus's translation of the name of Gaius was evidently based on a Syriac text which included it only as 'added in the margin by a later hand'![24] Another Syriac copy of the text discovered later (British Museum Add. 12,143) in fact did not include the name of the heretic.[25] The objection is followed in the commentary, however, by a reply from Hippolytus, as in the extracts from the Commentary on Revelation. In any case, Harris's discovery was corroborated when T. H. Robinson in 1906 discovered and published a manuscript of bar Salibi's Commentary on Revelation which contained its prologue (missing in the manuscript used by Gwynn), in which bar Salibi explicitly named Gaius as one who attributed both Johannine works to Cerinthus.[26] 'Hippolytus of Rome states that a man named Gaius had appeared, who said that neither the Gospel nor yet the Revelation was John's; but that they were the work of Cerinthus the heretic. And the blessed Hippolytus opposed this Gaius, and showed that the teaching of John in the Gospel and Revelation was different from that of Cerinthus.'[27]

[22] J. R. Harris, Hermas in Arcadia and Other Essays (Cambridge, 1896), 48-9.
[23] Text from an unpublished Syriac MS, Cod. Paris. syr. 67, fol. 270, r°, col. 2, contained in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, tr. by Smith, ‘Gaius’, 200-1, 591.
[24] Smith, ‘Gaius’, 201. That MS is Cod. Mus. Britt. Add. 7184, fo. 2432.
[25] Cf. Brent, Hippolytus, 145.
[26] T. H. Robinson, ‘The Authorship of the Muratorian Canon’, The Expositor, 7/1 (1906), 481-95.
[27] Ibid. 487. Dionysius’ commentary was finally published in full in 1909 (I. Sedlacek).

Sedlacek = Dionysius bar Salibi In Apocalypsim, Actus et Epistulas Catholicas Part: [1]: [Syriac text] / edidit I. Sedlácek. Series: Corpus scriptorum Christianorum orientalium ; vol.53. Publisher: Parisiis : E Typographeo Reipublicae, 1909. Physical desc.: 170p ; 25cm. Note: Syriac text and Latin translation. Other Names: Sedlácek, Jaroslav, 1860-1925.

Brent = Alan Brent, Hippolytus and the Roman Church in the Third Century: Communities in Tension before the Emergence of a Monarch-Bishop, VCSuppl. 31 (Leiden, 1995). 

Smith = Smith, Joseph Daniel. Title: Gaius and the Controversy Over the Johannine Literature [microform]. Notes: UMI80-11552 Dissertation: Thesis (Ph. D.)--Yale University, Department of Religious Studies, 1979.

Hill was mistaken in supposing that the manuscript used by Loftus was lost.  In Harris, Hermas in Arcadia, it states that the manuscript is now in Trinity College Dublin.  An email to their library revealed the existance of a Ms. 1512 containing the Commentarius in Quatuor Evangelia by Dionysius (Jacob) Barsalibi. According to their catalogue it was written by "Matthew, son of John, for his nephew Mathew, son of Bakhtitujar, A. Gr. 1509; A.D. 1198."

Hill's comments on the Commentary on the Gospel of John are also somewhat condensed.  The work is in fact a Commentary on the Four Gospels.  Fell translated a Syriac manuscript now in Trinity College Dublin (Ms. 1512) into Latin, creating the handwritten Bodleian Mss. Fell 6 and 7 (which I have seen: it is a large work, and so split in two volumes; 6 contains comments on Matthew and Mark, 7 the remainder, together with some material on the Pauline letters, and ends with a note that the manuscript didn't contain very much more, but was so corrupt he could not continue).  Loftus published some extracts from Dionysius in English:

Loftus did publish an English translation of materials from the Commentary on the Gospels, and there is a copy in Cambridge University Library, since I saw it in the catalogue om Wednesday but was too rushed to look at it:
A clear and learned explication of the history of our blessed Saviour Jesus Christ: taken out of above thirty Greek, Syriack, and other oriental authors: by Dionysius Syrus, ... and faithfully translated by D. Loftus. / [by] DIONYSIUS BAR SALIBI, Bishop of Amadia ; Loftus, Dudley ; JESUS CHRIST. (1695)
In this he states his intention to publish the Latin translation of the Commentary, but in fact he never did so.  However his manuscript was intended for a publisher, so is quite readable.  I could only transcribe a small portion, which took around an hour (John is contained in folios 105-193); this is from f.124, where his commentary on chapter 2 of John starts. From the top of the page (underlinings by Loftus):

Et die tertio factum est convivium. Expositio Mosis Bar Capha, -- non conformendo hunc diem cum die baptismi, ita dixit, sed cum isto die quo rediit e deserto, cum vicisset Diabolum; si enim cum die baptismi eum contulisset, composisetur esse quartus dies, non tertius, quia antea dixit die postero, id est, post diem interrogationis sacerdotum vidit Johannes Jesum bonientem, alioque die stabat, & duo ex discipulis eius, alio etiam die voluit Jesus exire in Galileam; non refert igitur hunc diem ad diem baptismi sed ad ipsum quo rediit e deserto.-- Sanctus Hypolitus Romanus) dies primus, ipso fuit, quo interrogarunt Pharisei Johannem, Quis es? et secundus dies, fuit ipse, quo baptisavit Dominum nostrum, statimque abiit in desertum, ibique mansit quadraginta dies et postea rediit, primus dies fuit, quando vidit eum ambulantem & secuti sunt eum duo discipuli, secundus quando abiit in Galileam, tertius quando factum est convivium. Gaius haereticus reprehendebat Johannem quia non concors fuit cum sociis dicontibus, quod post baptismum abiit in Galileam. et fecit miraculum vini in Kaina). Santus Hippolytus e contrario, s?? dicit (?), Christus postquam baptizatus fuerat abiit in desertum, et quando inquisitio facta erat de illo per discipulos Johannis et per populum, quarebant eum & non inveniebant, quia in deserto erat, cum vero finita fuisset temptatio & rediisset, venit in partos habitatas non ut baptizaretur, baptizatus enim iam fuerat, sed ut monstraretur a Johanne qui dixit intuens eum, Ecce agnus Dei! [etc]
A rough translation:

And on the third day the (wedding) feast happened. The exposition of Moses Bar Kepha, -- this day cannot be made to agree with the day of baptism 1, but with that day when he returned from the desert 2, when he had conquered the Devil; for if it be tied to the day of baptism, four days will be computed, because earlier he said 'the next day', i.e., after the day of the interrogation of the priests, John saw Jesus and his goodness, and on another day also two of his disciples, and on another day again Jesus wanted to leave Galilee; therefore this day does not relate to the day of baptism, but to that on which he returned from the desert. -- St. Hippolytus of Rome) the first day, so-called, when the Pharisees asked John, Who are you? and the supposed second day, when he baptised our Lord, and at once He went off into the desert, and remained there for 40 days, and afterwards returned, was the first day, because he saw him walking and two disciples were following him; the second when he went off into Galilee, the third when the (wedding) feast happened. Gaius the heretic used to criticise John because he was not in agreement with his fellow narrators because (he says that) after the baptism he went off into Galilee and performed the miracle of the wine in Cana). St. Hippolytus, on the contrary, [uncertain in ms. -- says to this?], Christ, after he had been baptised, went off into the desert, and when an inquiry was made concerning him by the disciples of John, and by the people, seeking and not finding him, because he was in the desert, when indeed the temptation had been finished and he had returned, he came into the habitable parts, not to be baptised, for he had already been baptised, but that he might be pointed out by John who said, looking at him, Behold the lamb of God! [etc]

1. Matt. 3:13.

2. Luke 4:14.

A modern edition of the Commentary exists, in the CSCO series, with Latin translation:

Dionysii bar Salibi Commentarii in Evangelia : Ediderunt I. Sedlacek, I.-B. Chabot et A. Vaschalde 
Series: Corpus scriptorum christianorum orientalium. Scriptores syri ; t. 33, 40, 47, 49
Corpus scriptorum christianorum orientalium ; v.77, 85, 95, 98
Publisher: Louvain : Secrétariat du CorpusSCO, 1953

However this stopped at the end of Luke, on the death of Sedlacek.  The portions on John have never been published.

But the Syriac of this portion of the Commentary on the Four Gospels was published by J.Rendel Harris in his article, and he consulted two manuscripts.  In this he determined that, in British Library Ms. Add. 7184, the name 'Gaius' was added above the line by a later hand; in another copy of the same text in the same library, B.L. Add. 12143, the addition of the name 'Gaius' was not present at all.

[Footnotes of all articles moved to the end and renumbered]

1. * Ap. Assem., B. O., t. iii., p. 15.

2. + Barsalibi quotes Scripture with great laxity, following the Peshitto in the main, but with many traces of familiarity with the seventh-century versions----the Harkleian in the New Testament and the Syro-Hexaplar in the Old. His citations from the Apocalypse agree so often and so closely with the version commonly printed in Syriac Bibles, as to prove that he knew that version; but he diverges from it freely now and then. In my translation I have endeavoured to represent accurately his method of citation. 

3.  ++ See Supp. Note (1), p. 418.

4. * See note on v., line 7 (p. 4I7).

5. + See Suppl. Note (4), (3), (2), p. 418.

6. * Besides St. Matthew's Gospel, it is to be observed that Caius cites 1 Thessalonians and 2 Timothy, as well as Genesis and the Psalms. Hippolytus cites (besides these) St. Luke, St. John, and Ephesians ; and also Exodus, Deuteronomy, Isaiah, Joel, and Amos.

7. * See the note appended to the Syriac text of this passage (IV., lines 8-14), below, p. 417, and compare the Greek of Epiphanius with the Syriac.

8. + See his article in Journal of Philology, vol. i. p. 98 (Cambridge, 1868). The weighty arguments adduced in p. 110 ff. retain their full force.

9. * A passage in this Commentary, on Rev. xi. 2, presents points of coincidence with the teaching of Hippolytus concerning Antichrist and the horn (Dan. vii. 8), the abomination of desolation (ib. xi. 31), and the half-week (ib. ix. 27), in his De Antichristo and Comm. in Danielem, &c. (Lagarde, pp. 13, 21, 32, 152, 160, 166, &c.) But as it does not relate to Caius and his teaching, I do not include it in the present article. I hope, however, to publish it at a future time.

10. * It was from the Commentary on the Second Epistle of St. Peter in this MS. that Pococke first learned the existence of the Harkleian version (previously unknown, even by name, to European scholars), and derived the extracts from it which he has printed (marking them 'S. A,' = Syrus Alter) in the notes to his Syriac text of the Four Minor Catholic Epistles, published in 1630.

11. + This peculiar order, in which the Apocalypse precedes the Acts and Epistles, is observed likewise in the Earl of Crawford's MS. of the whole New Testament in Syriac (Syr. No. 2), where it stands between St. John's Gospel and the Acts. I am of opinion that Wetstein's Syriac MS., now in Amsterdam Library (No. 184), of the Acts and Epistles, is part of what was once a complete New Testament containing the Apocalypse similarly placed.

12. 1 [Margin] 'In the Gospel: write, In the interpretation of the Gospel.'

13. 1  [Jehoram is of course meant].

14. 2 [This word (adopted into Syriac from the Latin, probably through the Greek legew&n) seems to be used here in its secondary sense of an evil spirit or demon, derived from the incident related by St. Mark,v. 9, St. Luke, viii. 30; in which sense it is found in Ephraim Syrus, iii. 115, 141 (Payne Smith's Thes. Syr., s. v.)].

15. 1 I have to repeat here what I have said in my former Paper (Hermath., vol. vi., p. 399, note t) that Barsalibi cites both Old and New Testament without regard to verbal accuracy. Hence the form in which many familiar texts appear in my rendering of this extract from his Commentary. In the New Testament texts he blends the Peshitto with the Harkleian version, and often deviates from both. In texts from the Old Testament, I am now of opinion that when he deviates from the Peshitto he translates for himself from the lxx. I find no clear evidence that he used the Syro-Hexaplar at all: and in particular I regard it as certain that he was unacquainted with the Syro-Hexaplar Daniel, and the [so-called] lxx. version of that book (the Chisian), which the Syro-Hexaplar follows.

16. 1 The Syriac @@@ 'that sprang up' (p. 147, line 9), seems to represent the ἀναφυόμενον, ἀναφύον, of Hippolytus in these passages. It is not from the Peshitto of Dan. vii., 8 or 20, nor does it render either the original Chaldee @@@ or Theodotion's τὸ ἀναβάν. The Chisian [lxx.] Daniel has ἀνεφύη, τὸ προσφυέν: but througout the De Chr. et Antichr. Hippolytus quotes exclusively, and at great length (e. g. ss. 19-22), from Theodotion's version, and it has been proved that he nowhere shows any knowledge of the other. (Salmon's Introduction to the. New Test., 3rd ed., p. 593.)

17. 1 It is worth noting that in my extract (p. 148, line 32) Hippolytus seems to have read ὁ ἄνθρωπος τῆς ἀνομίας in 2 Thess. ii. 3 (with B, n, &c.); whereas in the De Chr. et Antichr. he cites that verse with the common reading ἁμαρτίας

18. 2 This note, however, may perhaps be intended to be attached to the words 'in the Gospel'; and if so, they are probably to be regarded as only the attempt of a not very intelligent scribe to correct the text by substituting, ' in the interpretation of the Gospel' for those words. There is but one MS. available of this part of the Commentary (Rich, 7185). The Bodleian copy (Or. 560) has lost the leaves which contained it.

19. 1 The short vowel of the penult of Κορὴ is no difficulty. So the name Ῥόδη is transliterated Rhode in the Peshitto (Acts xii. 13).

20. 1 I take this opportunity of correcting the error by which the name Ebediesu is given as Ebediasa, ib. p. 399, line 1, and elsewhere. [Corrected in the online text]

21. 1 This is stated by Gregory Barhebraeus in his Chron. Eccl. [Sect, 1., Coll. 543, 559 ; ed. Abbeloos & Lamy; see also Assemani, Biblioth. Orient., t. ii., pp. 208-211].

22. 2 The Commentary itself, being part of the 'accurate interpretations' on the New Testament ascribed to him by Barhebraeus (559 ut supra), was, no doubt, a work on the same scale as his very copious Commentary on the Gospels, of which many MSS. are extant. A catalogue, cited by Assemani (ut supra), mentions 'a great book of interpretation of the New [Testament], and of the Revelation of John the Apostle.'

In the Paper to which this is a sequel, I had called attention (p. 410, note +) to the peculiar arrangement of this Commentary, by which the Apocalypse is placed before the Acts and Epistles, and I had shown that such is the order of the Books in the only known example of a complete Syriac New Testament of any antiquity, the

Earl of Crawford's 'Syr. No. 2,' and also (probably) in Welstein's MS., Amsterdam, before it was mutilated. From a monograph recently published by M. Samuel Berger (Le Palimpseste de Fleury, Paris, 1889), I have just learned the interesting fact (p. 12) that the fragments of the Paris palimpsests, 6400 G (Bibliothèque Nationale) prove on examination to belong to a volume which, in its original state, was arranged in the same remarkable order, containing----(1) the Apocalypse, (2) the Acts, (3) the Catholic Epistles. The MS. being of the sixth or seventh century, seems to be the earliest instance yet found of this arrangement, which (so far as I know) has not been observed in any other Latin MS., or in any Greek MS. whatever.

The Fragments of the old Latin version preserved in this version were for the first time published in a complete form by Belsheim, Appendix Epp. Paul. (Christiania, 1887).

23. 1  An edition of this work is in course of preparation, under the direction of Dr. Rendel Harris.

24. 2  Here the British Museum MS. breaks off. The first page is very defective, and even where whole, difficult to decipher.

25. 1  2 Cor. xi. 13. ψευδαπόστολοι, δόλιοι ἐργάται.

26. 2  i.e. in the millennium. 

27. 3 i.e. Gregory Naz.?

28. 4 i.e. the mention of John's name in Rev. xxii. does not disprove his identity with the fourth Evangelist.

29. 1 Referring to Carpocrates, the last heretic with whom Epiphanius has dealt.

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This text was transcribed by Roger Pearse, Ipswich, UK, 2005. All material on this page is in the public domain - copy freely.

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