Book 1.1: Then there was JAMES who was known as the brother of the Lord. For he too was called Joseph's son, and Joseph Christ's father, though in fact the Virgin was his betrothed, and before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit, as the inspired Gospel narrative tells us. This James, as the, whom the early Christians surnamed the Righteous' because of his outstanding virtue, was the first (as the records tell us) to be elected to the episcopal throne of the Jerusalem church.... Clement, in Outlines Book VI, puts it thus, 'Peter, James and John, after the Ascension of the Saviour, did not claim pre-eminence because the Saviour had especially honored them, but chose James the Righteous as Bishop of Jerusalem.... James the Righteous, John, and Peter were entrusted by the Lord after his resurrection with the higher knowledge. They imparted it to the other apostles, and the other apostles to the seventy...'
II.23: Such is the story of JAMES, to whom is attributed the first of the 'general' epistles. Admittedly its authenticity is doubted, since few early writers refer to it, any more than to 'Jude's', which is also one of the seven called general. But the fact remains that these two, like the others, have been regularly used in very many churches.
III.11: After the martyrdom of JAMES and the capture of Jerusalem which instantly followed, there is a firm tradition that those of the apostles and disciples of the Lord who were still alive assembled from all parts together with those who, humanly speaking, were kinsmen of the Lord--for most of them were still living. Then they all discussed together whom they should choose as a fit person to succeed James, and voted unanimously that SIMEON, son of the Cleophas mentioned in the gospel narrative (John 19:25) was a fit person to occupy the throne of the Jerusalem church. He was, so it is said, a cousin of the Saviour, for Hegesippus tells us that Cleophas was Joseph's brother.
III.19: The [Emperor Domitian] ordered the execution of all who were of David's line, and there is an old and firm tradition that a group of heretics accused the descendants of Jude--the brother, humanly speaking, of the Saviour--on the ground that they were of David's line and related to Christ himself. HEGESIPPUS states:
And there still survived of the Lord's family the grandsons of JUDE, who was said to be his brother, humanly speaking. These were informed against as being of David's line, and brought by the evocatus before Domitian Caesar, who was as afraid of the advent of Christ as Herod had been. Domitian asked them if they were descended from David, and they admitted it. Then he asked them what property they owned and what funds they had at their disposal. They replied that they had only 9,000 denarii between them, half belonging to each. This they said was not available in cash, but was the estimated value of only 25 acres of land, from which they raised the money to pay their taxes and the funds to support themselves by their own toil...
On hearing this, Domitian found no fault with them, but despising them as beneath his notice let them go free and issued orders terminating the persecution of the church. On their release they became leaders of the churches, both because they had borne testimony and because they were of the Lord's family. And thanks to the establishment of peace they lived on into Trajan's time (98-117).
III.25: It will be well at this point to classify the New Testament writings already referred to.
We must, of course, put first the holy quartet of the Gospels,
followed by the Acts of the Apostles
The next place in the list goes to Paul's Epistles
and after them we must recognize the epistle called I John
likewise I Peter
To these may be added (if thought proper) The Revelation of John
...These are classed as 'The Recognized Books'.
Those that are 'Disputed Books', yet familiar to most, include
the epistles known as James, Jude, and II Peter
and those called II John and III John
(the work either of the Evangelist John or of someone else with the same name).
Among the spurious books must be placed the 'Acts' of Paul, the 'Shepherd [of Hermas]' and the 'Revelation of Peter'; also the 'Epistle of Barnabas' and the 'Teachings of the Apostles', together with the 'Revelation of John' (if this seems the place for it; as I said before, some reject it, others include it among the Recognized Books). Moreover some have found a place in the list for the 'Gospel of the Hebrews', a book which has a special appeal for those Hebrews who have accepted Christ. These would all be classed with the Disputed Books, but I have been obliged to list the latter separately, distinguishing those writings which according to the tradition of the Church are true, genuine, and recognized, from those in a different category (not canonical, but disputed, yet familiar to most churchmen).
For we must not confuse these with the writings published by heretics under the names of the Apostles, as containing the gospels of Peter, Thomas, Mathias, and several others besides these, or Acts of Andrew, John, and other apostles. To none of these has any churchman of any generation ever seen fit to refer in his writings. Again, nothing could be farther from apostolic usage than the type of phraseology employed, while the ideas and implications of their contents are so irreconcilable with true orthodoxy that they stand revealed as the forgeries of heretics. It follows that so far from being classeven among 'The Spurious Books', they must be thrown out as impious and beyond the pale.
III.24: Of John's writings, besides the Gospel, the first of the epistles has been accepted as unquestionably his by scholars both of the present and of a much earlier period: the other two are disputed. As to the Revelation, the views of most people to this day are evenly divided.
III.3: Of PETER one epistle, known as his first, is accepted, and this the early fathers quoted freely, as undoubtedly genuine, in their own writings. But the second Petrine epistle we have been taught to regard as uncanonical. Many however have thought it valuable and have honored it with a place among the other Scriptures. On the other hand, in the case of the ACTS attributed to Peter, the GOSPEL that bears his name, the PREACHING called his, and the so-called REVELATION, we have no reason at all to include these among the traditional Catholic scriptures, for neither in early days nor in our own has any Church writer made use of their testimony....Paul on the other hand was obviously and unmistakably the author of the fourteen epistles, but we must not shut our eyes to the fact that some authorities have rejected the EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS, pointing out that the Roman Church denies that it is the work of Paul. As for the ACTS attributed to Paul, no one has ever suggested to me that they are genuine.
III.16: CLEMENT (Bishop [?] of Rome, ca. 92-98) has left us one recognized Epistle, long and wonderful, which he composed in the name of the church at Rome and sent to the church at Corinth, where dissension had recently occurred. I have evidence that in many churches this epistle was read aloud in to the assembled worshippers in early days, as it is in our own. That it was in Clement's time that the dissension at Corinth broke out is plain from the testimony of Hegesippus.
III.38: It must not be overlooked that there is a second epistle said to be from Clement's pen, but I have no reason to suppose that it was well known like the first one, since I am not aware that the early fathers made any use of it. A year or two ago other long and wordy treatises were put forward as Clement's work. They contain alleged dialogues with Peter and Apion, but there is no mention whatever of them by early writers, nor do they preserve in its purity the stamp of apostolic orthodoxy.
III. 27: A second group [of Heretics] went by the same name [Ebionites], but escaped the outrageous absurdity of the first. They did not deny that the Lord was born of a virgin and the Holy Spirit, but nevertheless shared their refusal to acknowledge His pre-existence as God the Word and Wisdom. Thus the impious doctrine of the others was their undiong too, especially since they placed equal emphasis on the outward observance of the Law. They held that the Epistles of the Apostle ought to be rejected altogether, calling him a renegade from the Law. And using only the 'Gospel of the Hebrews' they treated the rest with scant respect.
John Paul Adams, CSUN