Thursday, April 30, 2020

Eusebius, EH.7.22-23: Dionysius on How Christians Endured Plague

Image: Roman funerary mask, from Balansura, Egypt, c. AD 100-200, Penn Museum, Philadelphia.

This is an occasional series of readings from and brief notes and commentary upon Eusebius of Caesarea’s The Ecclesiastical History: Book 7, chapters 22-23. Listen here.

Notes and Commentary:

These chapters describe a terrible pestilence in Alexandria that followed the time of war described in the previous chapters (7.20-21), as well as a period of peace and stability that followed. Eusebius’s source is again a letter by Dionysius.

Chapter 22 describes how the plague in those days fell like the plague of the firstborn in Egypt in that it took so many lives, leaving no household untouched.

For the Christians, the plague came after their experience of persecution, having been driven out to meet in “field, desert, ship, inn, prison,” and the hardships of wartime. The believers, however, saw this, like other misfortunes, as “a source of discipline and testing.”

He gives a glowing report of how the Christians cared for one another during the plague, including tending the sick and dying, even when it resulted in the losing of their own lives. Dionysius compares these deaths as like those of the martyrs. He also notes that the Christians even took special care in the burial of their fellow believers.

He contrasts this with the behavior of the heathen who, when their loved ones were in the first stages of the disease, thrust them out and abandoned them. The gravely ill were put out on the road half-dead and the corpses of the dead treated as “vile refuse.”
When peace returned, Dionysius composed another festal letter to the believers in Egypt as well as treatises on the Sabbath and Exercise (peri gymnasiou).

In a letter to Hermammon and the brethren in Egypt, he described the wickedness of Decius and his successors as well as the peace that came to the church under Gallienus.

Chapter 23 describes the relative peace that came to the church after the capture of Valerian and his replacement as emperor by Gallienus. After Gallienus overcame an internal challenge from Macrianus, it was though the clouds fell back and the sun shone. Dionysius extolls Gallienus for leading the monarchy to put aside its “old age and cleansed itself from its former wickedness."


These chapters describe the perseverance of the early Christians in the face of persecution, war, and plague, till they entered into another era of peace. It is particularly striking to see how Dionysius contrasts the way that Christians handled the plague by extending love and care to others, in contrast to the heathen. Though this picture might be somewhat idealized, it does show how early Christians might have presented a winsome witness to their pagan neighbors and continued to grow despite the opposition lodged against them.


Seni Adeyemi on the Pure Preservation of Scripture (WCF 1:8).

I commend this recent teaching by Seni Adeyemi from the Phoenix Reformed Presbyterian Church in his survey of the WCF 1:8 on the importance of the purity and preservation of Scripture. Good points made about why this was important to the Protestant Orthodox in their apologetics and why it is still important today. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

WM 164: Has there been a "major shift" in the goal(s) of text criticism?

Note: I have posted WM 164: Has there been a "major shift" in the goal(s) of text criticism? to Listen here.

Here are some notes for this episode:

I was pleased to have Pastor Dane Jöhannsson as a special guest on this episode.

This episode is a follow up to the discussion in WM 163:Follow Up: Gurry, Parker, Text & Postmodernism.

It examines the question as to whether or not there has been a “major shift” in the goals of modern academic text criticism in the twenty first century.

It has three parts:

First, it offers a survey of some of the conversation with PG that continued in the comments section on my blog on the WM 163 post:

PG doubled down on his contention that the goal of NT criticism has not undergone a significant postmodern change and that many are still pursuing the “old goal.” He wrote: I repeat: many in the guild continue to think the original text is a legitimate goal for the discipline.

In response I provided a list of quotations in chronological order for readers to consider for themselves:

Here are a few quotes readers might enjoy reviewing in making their own judgments:

Wescott and Hort, Introduction to the NT in the Original Greek (1882): “This edition is an attempt to present exactly the words of the NT, so far as they can now be determined from surviving documents.”

Bart Ehrman, “The Text as Window” (1995): “The ultimate goal of textual criticism, in the judgement of most of its practitioners, is to reconstruct the original text of the NT….No historian would deny the desirability of this objective… At the same time, many textual critics have come to recognize that an exclusive concentration on the autographs can prove to be myopic… Much more, however, is left to be done … as we move beyond a narrow concern for the autographs to an interest in the history of their transmission, a history that can serve as a window into the social world of early Christianity.”

DC Parker, The Living Text of the Gospels (1997): “There is no original text. There are just different texts from different stages of production”

DC Parker, The Living Text of the Gospels (1997): “…the concept of a Gospel that is fixed in shape, authoritative, and final as a piece of literature has to be abandoned.”

EJ Epp, “The Multivalence of the Term ‘Original Text’ in NT Textual Criticism” (1999): “Now, however, reality and maturity require that textual criticism face unsettling facts, chief among them that the term ‘original’ has exploded into a complex and highly unmanageable multivalent entity.”

Michael W. Holmes, “Introduction,” The Greek NT SBL Edition (2010): “The standard text is viewed by some of those who use it as a ‘final’ text to be passively accepted rather than a ‘working’ text subject to verification and improvement…. In circumstances such as these, the existence of an alternatively critically edited text … will help remind readers of Greek NT that the text-critical task is not finished… it may also serve to draw attention to a fuller understanding of the goal of NT textual criticism: both identifying the earliest text and also studying all the variant readings for the light they shed on how particular individuals and faith communities adopted, used, and sometimes altered the texts they read, studied, and transmitted.”

DC Parker Textual Scholarship (2012): “…“the modern concept of a single authoritative ‘original’ text … a hopeless anachronism.”

Dirk Jongkind, Ed., “Introduction,” Tyndale House Greek NT (2017): “This edition aims to present in an easily readable format the best approximation to the words written by the NT authors, within the constraints of the documentary evidence that survives.”

Jennifer Knust & Tommy Wasserman, To Cast the First Stone (2019): “Our interpretation therefore begins not with the search for an original or initial text but with the available textual objects, each of which tells its own story, and with the readings of these distinctive objects by the communities that produced and interpreted them.”

Second, we discussed two other reactions to WM 163: a private email rebuke and TW’s response:

First, we discussed a couple of private emails I got from someone “in the guild”
rebuking me as an “outsider” and challenging someone who is “on the inside.”

Second, we noted Tommy Wasserman’s recent response to WM 163 in a post on the Evangelical Textual Criticism blog.

I plan to do a separate WM soon that will be devoted entirely to responding to TW.

Third, I shared a brief clip from a recent podcast in which Maurice Robinson, noted Byzantine Priority Advocate and Research Professor at SEBTS, addresses the current state of academic NT text criticism:

His comments were taken from episode 3 of a podcast called Hoi Polloi hosted by Pastor Abidan Paul Sha (22:27-28:01).

At one point Robinson quips, “there are a lot of strange things happening in NT textual criticism.”

Dr. Robinson’s comments seem to affirm my contention that there has, in fact, been a major postmodern shift in the goal(s) of contemporary academic text criticism.


PG seems to be saying, “But there are some of us (evangelicals) in 'the guild' and even some 'gatekeepers' of the scholarly academic text who are seeking the 'original' text." But that’s not the language they use. They want the “initial text.” They do not mean by “initial text” what Wescott and Hort meant by “original text.” The most, for example, that Jongkind can say of the THGNT is that it is “the best approximation to the words written by the NT authors, within the constraints of the documentary evidence that survives.” Our concern is that this type of approach ultimately undermines any confidence in the ability to define with confidence (and accuracy) what the Word of God is.


Monday, April 27, 2020

Eusebius, EH.7.20-21: Dionysius's Festal Letters in the Midst of Persecution and War

Image: Ruins of Roman Amphitheater, Alexandria, Egypt

This is an occasional series of readings from and brief notes and commentary upon Eusebius of Caesarea’s The Ecclesiastical HistoryBook 7, chapters 20-21. Listen here.

Notes and Commentary:

These chapters describe the various festal letters of Dionysius of Alexandria, who served as a major source for Eusebius in describing this time period.

Chapter 20 begins with mention of Dionysius’s various letters written on the occasion of the Pascha. This recalls the Quartodeciman controversy concerning the time when the passion and resurrection of Christ was to be remembered. Dionysius apparently favored the commemoration after the vernal equinox and not at the time of the Jewish Passover (14 Nisan). It is also noted that he wrote these letters even while the various persecutions were still underway.

Chapter 21 describes Dionysius’s return to Alexandria during a short-term peace of the church, which was interrupted when war broke out among various factions at Alexandria. At this time, the Christians were not able to assemble, so Dionysius had to communicate to those in Alexandria during the Pascha by letter “as if he were someone in a foreign country, from Alexandria itself.”

An excerpt is provided from a letter in which the bishop shares his frustration with not being able to see the brethren in person or even to get his correspondence through to them. He notes the danger involved in passing from one end of the city to the other, making it harder than traveling from one country to another. The central street was harder to traverse than was the desert crossed by the Israelites during their exodus. The harbor and rivers were sometimes as dry as when the Red Sea was removed and at other times prone to flood, as in the days of Noah. The waters were also at time red with the blood of the killed, as in the time of Pharaoh. Water and air were foul with the smell of rotting corpses.

These conditions would lead to famine (as described in the next chapter, 7.22). War and pestilence greatly reduced the population, removing especially the elderly, so that those who were once the youngest were now the oldest. The assessment is quite pessimistic, as Dionysius says that the time seemed to be drawing near when humans would be wiped out completely.


Eusebius continues to draw on Dionysius of Alexandria and his various letters, including, here, his festal letters, as a key source. No sooner had Christians escaped persecution from the state than they were caught up in war and famine. Dionysius provides a vivid and sometimes heart-wrenching description of the horrific sufferings of civilians in times of war and pestilence. His descriptions of frustration with confinement to home and lack of access to person-to-person Christian assemblies will certainly resonate with any who have had to deal with quarantines due to war or disease. Still, he offers encouragement by relating his times to Old Testament antecedents, even if his vision for the future of humanity remains dim.


Sunday, April 26, 2020

Audio for Complete Service and for Sermon at CRBC (4.26.20)

Dear CRBCers and friends,

Unfortunately, we had an unexpected glitch with our morning service's live stream at CRBC this morning.

You can, however, now listen to the audio of the entire service here.

Have a blessed Lord's Day, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Friday, April 24, 2020

The Vision (4.24.20): And Hezekiah his son reigned in his stead

Note: Devotional taken from last Sunday's sermon on 2 Kings 16.

And Ahaz slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David: and Hezekiah his son reigned in his stead (2 Kings 16:20).

2 Kings 16 describes the reign of wicked king Ahaz in Judah, who “walked in the ways of the kings of Israel” and even “made his son pass through the fire” (v. 3). Ahaz was a descendent of David and Solomon. He had been given great spiritual benefits and blessings, but he threw it all away.

What are the wages of sin (Rom 6:23)? Death. In the end, he went the way of all flesh and slept with his fathers (v. 20a).

What a depressing chapter! There does not seem to be one redeeming feature in this entire passage.

I want to suggest to you, however, there is one tiny sliver of hope in the very last line of this chapter. It is as though we were lost in a dark cave and saw a little pin prick of light ahead in the distance.

The chapter ends in v. 20b: “and Hezekiah his son reigned in his stead.” Just as sometimes wicked men come from godly parents, sometimes godly men come from wicked parents.

Hezekiah would be a godly king. Look ahead to 18:3 where it says Hezekiah “did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father David did.” Hezekiah would not be perfectly righteous, but he would be better than Ahaz. Dale Ralph Davis observed: “How merciful that [the LORD] usually does not give us Ahaz-upon-Ahaz” (2 Kings, 240). God was not through with the people of God. Wicked king Ahaz was not going to snuff out the lamp that God had given to David. Hezekiah was coming!

There is no evidence of any hope for Ahaz, but there was for Israel. Hezekiah was coming. But, in the end, Hezekiah was not the real hope. The real hope, the real sliver of light was the Messiah who would come from the line of David. It is going to get even worse for Judah in days to come, but the light is still going to come.

Isaiah will prophesy of Christ: “The people that have walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined” (Isaiah 9:2). And Christ, when he came, declared: “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12).

It was dark in Ahaz’s day, but Christ was coming. It is sometimes dark in our days, but Christ has come. He is present with us now by the Spirit. And he will one day come again. That is our hope.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Monday, April 20, 2020

Eusebius, EH.7.18-19: An Early Jesus Statue & the Throne of James

Image: Fresco in the Catacomb of Callixtus in Rome (c. third century), depicting Christ as the Good Shepherd.

This is an occasional series of readings from and brief notes and commentary upon Eusebius of Caesarea’s The Ecclesiastical HistoryBook 7, chapters 18-19. Listen here.

Notes and Commentary:

These chapters are interesting in that Eusebius describes early examples of Christian art and objects of religious devotion.

Chapter 18 describes a statue configuration at Caesarea Philippi, supposedly placed as a memorial at the home of the woman with the issue of blood who touched the hem of Jesus’s garment and was healed. Eusebius said it included a “lofty stone” at the gates of the woman’s house with “a brazen figure in relief of a woman” on bended knee stretching out her hands. Opposite of this figure was another of the same material depicting Jesus. Eusebius says, “This statue, they said, bore the likeness of Jesus.” Also growing at the foot of the statue of Jesus was an herb supposedly with healing powers. Eusebius claims to have seen these objects with his own eyes when visiting the city.

He also makes reference to other such objects, including colored painting depicting the apostles Paul and Peter, as well as Jesus himself, and he suggests that such things were according to “pagan habit.”

Chapter 19 describes the “throne (thronos) of James,” the brother of Christ and first bishop of Jerusalem as a religious object. Eusebius claims that this throne or seat had been preserved to his day and that the brethren gave honor to it. He mentions this approvingly seeing it as evidence of the esteem in which James was held both by the ancients and contemporaries.


These notes are intriguing in that they give evidence of the development of Christian visual art, as well as the veneration of religious objects. Eusebius himself sees it as related to pagan (rather than Jewish) tendencies, but he does not necessarily denounce it and even seems to offer approval. Such things will become matters of greater controversy in later years, including in the controversies over icons and other religious objects. Such controversies will continue even up to the Protestant Reformation and beyond.


Saturday, April 18, 2020

WM 163: Follow Up: Gurry, Parker, Text, & Postmodernism

Image: Dedication page: Jennifer Knust & Tommy Wasserman, To Cast the First Stone (Princeton, 2019).

I have posted WM 163: Follow Up: Gurry, Parker, Text, & Postmodernism. Listen here. Notes for WM 163:

In this episode I want to follow up to the interaction I had with Dr. Peter Gurry (PG) and James Snapp (JS) back on January 29, 2020 (in the pre-covid days!) on Josh Gibbs’s Talking Christianity podcast. Unfortunately, what was supposed to be a moderated conversation between our three positions turned out to be something of a disorderly disaster. See my follow up blog post here. Still, I think some have profited from it, and I continue to hear from folk every now and then whose interest in the confessional text was piqued by the conversation.

There were a number of things that made the interaction difficult, from my perspective. For one thing, my co-participants wanted to make the conversation about reconstructing the external evidence, and did not seem to grasp or respond to my argument that such a method is futile given the paucity of evidence and its scattered and fragmented condition. For another thing, with regard to PG, in particular, I was frustrated with the unwillingness to acknowledge or respond to what I consider to be some basic factual realities with regard to contemporary text criticism in the modern academy.

First, PG dismissed as altogether insignificant the postmodern shift that has taken place in contemporary text criticism and the abandonment of any certainty with respect to the reconstruction of the autograph.

Second, oddly enough, he denied the influence of D. C. Parker as a “gatekeeper,” an influential thinker, who has greatly shaped the approach to modern text criticism in the academy.

So, in this WM I want to do four things:

First, I want to play a clip from the Josh Gibbs’s podcast in which I interacted with PG.

Second, I want to talk a little about DC Parker and his views: Why is he significant?

Third, I want to read a book review I wrote of DC Parker’s Textual Scholarship and the Making of the NT (Oxford, 2012), so that you can judge for yourself the influence of Parker.

Fourth, I want to offer some brief concluding thoughts.

First: the clip from the discussion with PG. You can find it here (from c. 35-48 minute mark).

Second: Is DC Parker a gatekeeper?

Let’s begin with Dr. Parker’s webpage at the University of Birmingham, where he is Professor of Digital Philology in the Department of Theology and Religion.

His introductory blurb:

My main current work is editions of the Gospel of John funded by the AHRC. One is a critical edition of the Greek text in the series Novum Testamentum Graece. Editio critica maior, in partnership with the Institut für neutestamentliche Textforschung, Münster, Germany. Another is an edition of the Gospel of John in Latin in the Vetus Latina series.

His biography:

I read Theology at St. Andrews, specialising in New Testament and Church History. From there I went to Cambridge, where I completed a postgraduate degree and trained for the Anglican priesthood. After eight years in parochial ministry in North London and Oxfordshire, I moved to Birmingham in 1985, teaching at Queen’s College until 1993, when I joined the department. I have a doctorate from the University of Leiden, The Netherlands.
I have been Executive Editor of the International Greek New Testament Project since 1987. I am editor of the series Texts and Studies. Contributions to Biblical and Patristic Literature (published by Gorgias Press) and Arbeiten zur neutestamentliche Textforschung (published by De Gruyter).
In 2012 I was elected a Fellow of the British Academy. From the 2017-18 academic year, I have taken stepped retirement and will not be accepting any more postgraduate students.
His Research:

My main current work is editions of the Gospel of John funded by the AHRC. One is a critical edition of the Greek text in the series Novum Testamentum Graece. Editio critica maior, in partnership with the Institut für neutestamentliche Textforschung, Münster, Germany. Another is an edition of the Gospel of John in Latin in the Vetus Latina series. I also contributed to the COMPAUL Project directed by Dr Hugh Houghton. I am co-editor of the monograph series Arbeiten zur neutestamentliche Textforschung and am on the editorial board of the journal Filologia Neotestamentaria.
Other research contributions in recent years include online editions of two early Christian manuscripts, Codex Sinaiticus  and Codex Bezae, and the Society of Antiquaries of London’s three copies of Magna Carta. My most recent book (Textual Scholarship and the Making of the New Testament. The Lyell Lectures 2011, Oxford: Oxford University Press, paperback edition 2014) describes many aspects of my current thinking and ITSEE projects. 
His publications: Here are some key works:

Codex Bezae. An Early Christian Manuscript and Its Text, Cambridge University Press, 1992.

The Living Text of the Gospels, Cambridge University Press, 1997.

An Introduction to the New Testament Manuscripts and their Texts, Cambridge University Press, 2008.

Textual Scholarship and the Making of the New Testament, Oxford University Press, October 2012.

Codex Sinaiticus. The Story of the World’s Oldest Bible, British Library and Peabody MA: Hendrickson, 2010. German translation, German Bible Society, 2012.

Of these works, Parker’s Living Text of the Gospels is considered by many to have been groundbreaking. In the opening chapter on “The theory” Parker states a key thesis: “There is no original text. There are just different texts from different stages of production” (4).

Third: My book review of DC Parker’s Textual Scholarship and the Making of the NT (Oxford, 2012) [from American Theological Inquiry Vol. 7 No. 1 (2014):  pp. 81-84]:


Clear assessment:

There has been a momentous postmodern shift in the contemporary academic NT text criticism.

DC Parker has exerted enormous influence in the field of contemporary NT Text Criticism.

For just one final piece of evidence of this, look at the dedication to Jennifer Knust & Tommy Wasserman, To Cast the First Stone: The Transmission of A Gospel Story (Princeton, 2019) which reads: “For D. C. Parker on the occasion of his retirement.”

The concluding paragraph of the Acknowledgements: “Finally, in recognition of his long service to our discipline and his profound influence upon us, we have chosen to dedicate this book to David C. Parker. His living texts, vibrant scholarship, overwhelming openness, and noble example, give us much to admire. We wish him the best for his retirement and would like to express our sincerest thanks for everything he has taught us. Thank you David!” (xviii).

So, why was PG so intent in our conversation to deny the shift that has taken place in contemporary text criticism? Why deny the influence of DC Parker as a gatekeeper in (post) modern text criticism? I do not know.

I think it would be burying one’s head in the sand to deny that a postmodern shift has taken place in contemporary text criticism, and that this shift is a challenge to the authority of Scripture as the basis for faith and practice in traditional Christianity.


Friday, April 17, 2020

The Vision (4.17.20): Four Indispensable Facts of the Gospel

Image: Golden Euonymus shrub, North Garden, Virginia, April 2020

Note: Devotion taken from last Sundays's sermon on 1 Corinthians 15.

For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the Scriptures: And that he was seen of Cephas and then of the twelve (1 Corinthians 15:3-5).

In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul reminds the Corinthians of the gospel (good news) he had preached to them when they first came to the faith.

He lists four main points.  They are not exhaustive of everything that is true about Christ, but they are essential.

1.  The atoning death of Christ (v. 3b):

He begins with Christ’s death on the cross: “how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures.” Notice that Christ’s death was an atoning death.  It was a death for others, for the elect.  The Shepherd laid down his life for his sheep.  Here is a prooftext for what we call the doctrine of particular redemption. Christ’s death on the cross fulfilled scriptural prophecy (cf. Isaiah 53:4-6).

2.  The burial of Christ (v. 4a):

The burial of Christ is a historical point upon which all four Gospels agree.  After his death on the cross, the lifeless body of Jesus was laid in an empty tomb by Joseph of Arimathea.  Why is Paul so keen on this point?  It proves the reality of Christ’s death.

3.  The resurrection of Christ (v. 4b):

Christ was crucified on Friday morning at the third hour (9am); at the sixth hour (12 noon) darkness came over the earth; and at the ninth hour (3 pm) he breathed his last (see Mark 15:25, 33-34, 37). His body was then placed in the tomb late on Friday afternoon, before sunset, and remained in the tomb on Saturday. Then on the first resurrection Sunday morning the women disciple came and found the stone rolled away and the tomb empty.  According to the Jewish reckoning he had been part of three days in the tomb but then he had been gloriously raised I fulfillment of Scripture (cf. Psalm 16).

4.  The resurrection appearances of Christ (vv. 5-11):

As the burial gave proof of his death, the appearances vouch for the truth of the resurrection.  In Acts 1 we are told that the risen Jesus appeared over a period of 40 days to his disciples.  Paul here gives a list of various resurrection appearances: To Cephas (Peter) and the Twelve (v. 5); to over 500 brethren (v. 6); to James and all the apostles (v. 7). Finally, Paul says the Lord appeared to him “as one born out of due time [ektroma, miscarriage]” (v. 8).

The gospel, by God’s grace, had reached the Corinthians through the preaching of Paul.  Whenever and wherever the Gospel is rightly preached these four essential elements, these four indispensable facts, will be proclaimed:  Christ died for us; he was buried; he was raised; and he appeared.

We are not called to be creative with the Gospel, but to be faithful to it.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Edward Freer Hills (1912-1981): Forgotten Pilgrim of the OPC: A Tribute and a Memoir

Image: Dr. Edward Freer Hills (1912-1981)

Pastor Christian McShaffrey of Five Solas OPC has posted a tribute to the ministry of Edward Freer Hills (1912-1981), describing him as a "Forgotten Pilgrim of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church." He has also posted a brief memoir of Dr. Hills which will serve as a valuable encouragement to those who are part of the Confessional Text movement. You can read the Tribute and the Memoir here.


Monday, April 13, 2020

Eusebius, EH.7.15-17: Marinus the Martyr-Soldier & Astyrius the Senator

Image: Representations of Marinus and Astyerius

This is an occasional series of readings from and brief notes and commentary upon Eusebius of Caesarea’s The Ecclesiastical HistoryBook 7, chapters 15-17. Listen here.

Notes and Commentary:

These chapters, though set at the time of the church’s peace after the end of the Valerian persecution, describe the martyr-soldier Marinus of Caesarea, as well as the Christian Roman senator Astyrius.

Chapter 15 relays the account of Marinus, a man distinguished by birth and rank, who on the verge of being made a centurion was accused by a rival of being a Christian and thus unfit to hold this position since he could not offer sacrifices to the emperor. The judge (Achaeus) gave Marinus three hours to consider his response. In that time he met with the bishop Theotecnus who dramatically asked him to choose either his sword or a copy of the Gospels. When he extended his hand without hesitation to “the divine book”, he was exhorted to hold fast to God and departed to be “perfected” in death as a martyr and was beheaded.

Chapter 16 describes how Astyrius, a Christian who was a wealthy Roman senator and friend of the emperor was present at Marinus’s martyrdom and took the body on his shoulders, wrapped it in a costly robe and gave him a fitting burial.

Chapter 17 provides another anecdote about Astyrius which occurred at Caesarea Philippi where the pagans claimed that at a certain springs during one of their festivals a sacrifice when offered would disappear from sight. Astyrius prayed that God would put an end to this deception and the demon who caused it, and, after he did so, the sacrifice floated on the springs bringing this supposed “miracle” to an end, never to be repeated at this spot again.


The account of Marinus’s martyrdom is a reminder that even in times of relative peace, the Christians were in danger of malicious charges. The fact that Marinus was a soldier from a noble family who was nearly placed at the rank of centurion and that Astyrius was a respected senator shows how adherents from this new religion were rising to positions of prominence within Roman society but also coming into conflict with the traditional, pagan religions.