Friday, January 16, 2015

ANY 5: Hippolytus Appendix

Ante-Nicene Fathers Volume 5

Hippolytus: Appendix to the Works of Hippolytus. Containing Dubious and Spurious Pieces

This collection of odds and ends involves the doctrine of the Incarnation, the nature of prophecy, the antichrist, and a number of other issues. Loosely chilliastic in nature, these tidbits emphasize application to the present and resistance to present antichrists, as well as the great coming one.

The end of this collection includes a list of the Apostles, first a bit on each of the twelve and then a listing of the "seventy," followed by the "Heads of the Canons of Abulides or Hippolytus," and then the "Canons of the Church of Alexandria." Some of this is interesting, though of course as someone who is nearly a historian (it was my minor field) I would question the accuracy of the record included here. As someone who cares about theology, I'm quite happy to say that this might as well be true, since it doesn't functionally affect the truth laid out in Scripture.

The two sets of Canons are interesting enough whatever their age--the former claims to be those used by the "Ethiopian Christians" while the latter belongs to the church in Egypt (allegedly). While these are really to spare to be much use overall, it is interesting that we see somewhat clear displays of

  1. Some kind of congregationalism ("A bishop should be elected by all the people.") 
  2. The necessity of a profession of faith, repentance, and pursuit of a holy life for membership in the church and access to the sacraments (baptism and communion). 
  3. The concern for holiness in the course of a church service (possibly to a sinful or legalistic extent, though again these are so spare it can be hard to tell what the exact practice was). 

This section can be skipped in all good conscience. The apocalyptic stuff is interesting enough I suppose, but not really necessary reading--especially given that 1) we don't really know who wrote it/where it comes from; and 2) the clear interpositions from later copyists (such as the mention of the "spotless Mary", clearly an insertion from a later time). The lists concerning the Apostles is certainly interesting enough intellectually (especially the section on the 12 that gives us a bit more information than found elsewhere), but not necessarily worth the effort required to read it. The canons are a bit interesting as well, but again so uncertain as to their date, use, or content, they're really not necessary reading.

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