SELECTIONS FROM EARLY CHRISTIAN WRITERS: ILLUSTRATIVE OF CHURCH HISTORY TO THE TIME OF CONSTANTINE by Henry Melvill Gwatkin, M.A. First Edition, Macmillan & Co., Ltd., 1893. Reprinted with additions and corrections, 1897, 1902, 1905. Prepared for katapi by Paul Ingram, 2013.
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XX. EUSEBIUS, Hist. Eccles. iv. 29.


Ep. Dionysius of Corinth to the Romans


Ἔτι τοῦ Διονυσίου καὶ «πρὸς Ῥωμαίους» ἐπιστολὴ φέρεται, ἐπισκόπῳ τῷ τότε Σωτῆρι προσφωνοῦσα· ἐξ ἧς οὐδὲν οἷον τὸ καὶ παραθέσθαι λέξεις δι᾿ ὧν τὸ μέχρι τοῦ καθ᾿ ἡμᾶς διωγμοῦ φυλαχθὲν Ῥωμαίων ἔθος ἀποδεχόμενος ταῦτα γράφει·

«Ἐξ ἀρχῆς γὰρ ὑμῖν ἔθος ἐστὶν τοῦτο, πάντας μὲν ἀδελφοὺς ποικίλως εὐεργετεῖν ἐκκλησίαις τε πολλαῖς ταῖς κατὰ πᾶσαν πόλιν ἐφόδια πέμπειν, ὧδε μὲν τὴν τῶν δεομένων πενίαν ἀναψύχοντας, ἐν μετάλλοις δὲ ἀδελφοῖς ὑπάρχουσιν ἐπιχορηγοῦντας δι᾿ ὧν πέμπετε ἀρχῆθεν ἐφοδίων πατροπαράδοτον ἔθος Ῥωμαίων Ῥωμαῖοι φυλάττοντες, ὃ οὐ μόνον διατετήρηκεν ὁ μακάριος ὑμῶν ἐπίσκοπος Σωτήρ, ἀλλὰ καὶ ηὔξηκεν, ἐπιχορηγῶν μὲν τὴν διαπεμπομένην δαψίλειαν τὴν εἰς τοὺς ἁγίους, λόγοις δὲ μακαρίοις τοὺς ἀνιόντας ἀδελφούς, ὡς τέκνα πατὴρ φιλόστοργος, παρακαλῶν.»

Ἐν αὐτῇ δὲ ταύτῃ καὶ τῆς Κλήμεντος πρὸς Κορινθίους μέμνηται ἐπιστολῆς, δηλῶν ἀνέκαθεν ἐξ ἀρχαίου ἔθους ἐπὶ τῆς ἐκκλησίας τὴν ἀνάγνωσιν αὐτῆς ποιεῖσθαι· λέγει γοῦν·

«Τὴν σήμερον οὖν κυριακὴν ἁγίαν ἡμέραν διηγάγομεν, ἐν ᾗ ἀνέγνωμεν ὑμῶν τὴν ἐπιστολήν, ἣν ἕξομεν ἀεί ποτε ἀναγινώσκοντες νουθετεῖσθαι, ὡς καὶ τὴν προτέραν ἡμῖν διὰ Κλήμεντος γραφεῖσαν».

Ἔτι δὲ ὁ αὐτὸς καὶ περὶ τῶν ἰδίων ἐπιστολῶν ὡς ῥᾳδιουργηθεισῶν ταῦτά φησιν·

«Ἐπιστολὰς γὰρ ἀδελφῶν ἀξιωσάντων με γράψαι ἔγραψα. καὶ ταύτας οἱ τοῦ διαβόλου ἀπόστολοι ζιζανίων γεγέμικαν, ἃ μὲν ἐξαιροῦντες, ἃ δὲ προστιθέντες· οἷς τὸ οὐαὶ κεῖται. οὐ θαυμαστὸν ἄρα εἰ καὶ τῶν κυριακῶν ῥᾳδιουργῆσαί τινες ἐπιβέβληνται γραφῶν, ὁπότε καὶ ταῖς οὐ τοιαύταις ἐπιβεβουλεύκασιν».

Moreover there is current an Epistle of Dionysius to the Romans, addressed to Soter who was then bishop. But there is nothing like quoting from it words in which he approves the custom of the Romans which was kept up till the persecution of our own time, writing thus,

For you have from the beginning this custom of doing good in divers ways to all the brethren, and sending supplies to many churches in all the cities, in one place refreshing the poverty of them that need, in another helping brethren in the mines with the supplies which you have sent from the beginning, maintaining like Romans the traditional custom of the Romans, which your worthy bishop Soter has not only kept up but increased, helping the saints with the abundant supply he sends from time to time, and with blessed words exhorting, as a loving father his children, the brethren who come up to Rome.

In this same Epistle he also mentions Clement's Epistle to the Corinthians, showing that from the first of ancient custom it was read before the Church. He says,

To-day being the Lord's day we kept holy; and in it we read your letter, from the reading of which we shall always be able to obtain admonition, as from the former one written to us through Clement.

Again, the same writer speaks of his own epistles as having been falsified, in these words,

For when the brethren asked me to write letters, I wrote them; and these the apostles of the devil have filled with tares, taking away some things and adding others. For them the Woe is reserved. So it is no marvel if some have endeavoured to falsify even the dominical scriptures, when they have plotted also against writings of another sort.


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