Lucian And Christianity -- By: Adolf Planck

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 010:39 (Jul 1853)
Article: Lucian And Christianity
Author: Adolf Planck


Lucian And Christianity

Adolf Planck

A Contribution To The Church History Of The Second Century

2. Peregrinus as a Christian. Lucian’s opinion of the Christians.

The section in Peregrinus on the Christians (chap. 11-13. 16), takes a place always deserving of notice among the testimonies of pagan writers respecting Christianity. It is about equal in extent to the well-known letter of Pliny, but its contents are not satisfactory in relation to the time, eighty years later perhaps, when so keen an observer of surrounding objects as Lucian might have perceived many things capable of casting light upon difficult questions of church history. “We will give the passage in the original, and explain it, and compare the assertions of Lucian with those of contemporaneous church writers. After Peregrinus had strangled his father and been forced to flee, he came, according to Lucian’s account, into contact with the Christians in Palestine. Ὅτε περ, it reads in the 11th chapter, καὶ τὴν θαυμαστὴν σοφίαν τῶν χριστιανῶν ἐξέμαθε, περὶ τὴν Παλαιστίνην τοῖς ἱερεῦσι καὶ γραμματεῦσιν αὐτῶν ξυγγενόμενος. Thus Peregrinus had learned the wonderful wisdom of the Christians, and, indeed, if we are to regard the force of ἐκ, most thoroughly, although in Lucian’s opinion there was not much to learn. Therefore an old scholiast breaks out in the words: “Wonderful, indeed, O man accursed, and raised above all wonders, although blind boaster (ἀλαζόνι τυφλῷ), thou wilt not perceive its beauty.” But it is surprising that the Christians are said to have had priests and scribes, and it is a proof of the little certain knowledge which Lucian had of the constitution of Christian churches, of the titles and dignities of their servants and officers; or it may be explained on the supposition that he, as well as many earlier and later pagan writers, confounded Christianity with Judaism. Yet it must be observed that Lucian (a passage in the Tragopodagra excepted) never mentions the Jews. In Suetonius (Vita Claudii, 25) the intermingling in the passage: Judaeos impulsore Christo assidue tumultuantes Roma ex-

pulit, is easy to be explained; but Dio Cassius himself, in the third century, still speaks (67. 14, certainly with reference to Christians under Domitian) of the ἔγκλημα ἀθεότητος ὑφ᾿ ἧς καὶ ἄλλοι εἰς τὰ τῶν ᾿Λουδαίων ἤθη ἐξοκέλλοντες (declinantes) ...

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