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The animus of the Jacobins against religion, too, had to be quieted down for Irish consumption. Napper Tandy, who had been a commandant of artillery in the Irish Volunteers, was the leading go-between in the dealings of revolutionary France with insurgent Ireland, and played no small part in the establishment of revolutionary lodges in Ireland.
In Theobald Wolfe Tone was invited to meet some of the ex-members of the Irish Volun- teers in Belfast and founded the important society of United Irishmen. The organisation swiftly gained power and became a strong supporter of the demand for equality of Catholic and Protestant.
The Govern- ment did not relish this coalition of dissatisfied elements ; the French Revolution was thriving, and, rather than see it spread, they were ready to conciliate the Irish Catholics, realising, perhaps tardily, that the traditional Catholic is slow to become a revolutionary. In the Catholic Relief Bill was passed, and the policy of the Government was to set off the Catholics against the Northern Republicans.
The propaganda of the United Irishmen was hostile to this mechanism of government, and in the Government acted vigorously and put down the society and its journals. In each of the four provinces of Ireland a subordinate directory was established, who superintended the organisation in that province. Baronial, County, and Provincial Committees were established beneath them, and the unit of a subordinate circle or Society was limited to twelve members.
The whole society was controlled by the executive directory of five persons, elected by the Provincial directors, but the personnel of the executive was not known to the Provincial directories but only to their secretaries. The following year Napper Tandy, on behalf of the United Irishmen of Dublin, entered the Society of Defenders, and very soon the whole of the latter organisation was absorbed into the United Irishmen.
This combination of the Defenders with the Republican society of the United Irishmen was countered by the sudden and mysterious rise to power of the Orange Society. The property of the fugitive Catholics was taken by the Protestants, and the long-drawn-out per- secution ended in a chronic condition of turbulence.
There and then the name of the society was changed to The Orange Society, and a grand lodge and subsidiary lodges initiated. Later the Purple Degree and that of Mark Man were added, and at one time the Co-masonic rite of Heroine of Jericho was adopted, but later wisely discarded. The interest of the French in the progress of the Irish revolutionary movement now became quickened. Tone, who had visited the United States in , and who had come into touch with the French authorities there, had not been fully empowered to commit his society.
But in the May of the society took the fatal step of soliciting foreign aid. Lord Edward Fitzgerald was their missioner. Accompanied by Mr. In November of the same year the French sent an agent to say they would land arms and ammunition and an expeditionary force at Bantry Bay.
The prospect of this assistance involved the conversion of the United Irishmen from a civil secret society into a secret military and insurgent society. The change began in , and of the , members of the society, , were deemed capable of bearing arms. The change was easily effected, the conspirators simply assuming military titles according to their rank in the society.
Tone had, in the meantime, sailed from America to France and represented the society there. He set sail with the French Fleet for Bantry Bay, but a series of storms separated the vessels, so that only ten ships and 6, of the expeditionary force reached the Bay, while Hoche, who was in command, was driven back with seven ships. For five days the French flotilla waited in Bantry Bay for Hoche, but as he did not arrive and it was too rough for landing, they returned. The secrets of the United Irishmen were known to the Government, as many of the highest-placed members were informers.
The negotiations with the French were closely followed. In another agent of the Society, Mr. Lavins, went to Paris and pressed for a second expedition. This was agreed to, and a powerful fleet was accumulated in the Texel. At length the Government decided to break the back of the movement by arresting the leaders on a charge of high treason. The whole of the directory were arrested at a meeting, with the exception of Lord Edward Fitzgerald, who was absent and for some time escaped arrest.
The seizure of the leaders threw the movement into confusion, but a general rising was planned for May 23rd. Lord Edward was to command. On the 20th he was located in Dublin and wounded while resisting arrest. He died in prison a few days later. Martial law was proclaimed and the kingdom declared to be in a state of rebellion. Events rushed to a climax, and on the 23rd the rebels rose, and troops, both regular and loyal yeomanry, moved against them.
The history of this futile rebellion shows how slender the unity inculcated by the United Irishmen really was. It broke up naturally into Loyalists and Protestants versus Insurgents and Catholics, and the most barbarous atrocities of religious warfare were committed on both sides. By July the insurrection was practically crushed, when a French expedition under Humbert landed on the Mayo coast early in August.
This expedition was rounded up and surrendered in September, and shortly afterwards a small French naval force was met with off the Ulster coast, headed by the line-of-battle ship, Hoche. She was captured and the remainder of the flotilla dispersed. There he was identified, taken to Dublin and sentenced to be hanged. Awaiting the gallows, he cut his throat in his cell and so perished. With the failure of the revolution of open and secret plotting to establish a Republic came to a temporary end.
The attempt at separation brought about the Act of Union, and a peace of exhaustion reigned which was only broken by a futile attempt by Robert Emmett to provoke rebellion in Emmett is the historic prototype of the un- repentant Irish revolutionary who is undeterred from future crime by the leniency of a short sentence.
From there he returned and got into touch with what was left of the irreconcilable United Irishmen. His father having died and left him a few thousand pounds, he spent his money on arms to prepare another rising in Dublin. There he set up two munition factories, one of which providentially exploded, putting the authorities on their guard.
On the evening of the 23rd July, , Emmett and a small band of fanatics rushed out into the streets of Dublin with some idea of capturing the Castle. Troops came up, the rebels were dispersed with heavy loss, and Emmett went into hiding, to be captured shortly after- wards in Dublin and hanged with seventeen others of his company.
The faint assistance given by the revolutionary French and the slackness of the Republican Directory of France can only be explained on one assumption. The hidden leaders of the revolution were not prepared to support a country which was still predominantly Catholic in religion and whose democracy was essentially superstitious and re- actionary peasantry. The seeds of republicanism and the tenets of subversive revolution were, however, sown and have never been eradicated, nor have they yet come to their full harvest.
On the one hand, we find the Catholic people and bourgeoisie linked in alliance with the Jacobin minority among the Protestants, on the other side there are arrayed the governing classes and the loyal Protestant settlers. The secret organisation of United Irishmen stood for the subversive elements, while the Orange secret society stood for uncompromising support of the Crown and Constitution and Protestant principles.
The rebellion had led to the destruction of the United Irishmen as an active association, but it was not killed — only scotched, and Emmett had had no trouble in finding secret devotees to help him in his futile rising, thereby showing that the virus still existed. Thus, despite the failure of the French Revolution of the Jacobin period, the collapse of the Directorate and the rise of the Consulate of Napoleon, there were many who still clung to the dangerous doctrines of the Revolution.
The Jacobins — like their descendants, the Bolsheviki — were out to produce a total upheaval of established society, not only in France but wide-world in its distribution. The revolution in France was aided, if not brought about, by Orleanist and Prussian influence, for there were many interests converging insensibly towards the same end which were exploited by the engineers of the Revolution.
In these days it is difficult to think of any leader of the Revolution as being moved by im- personal, detached motives. The fanaticism of religion is seen at its best when crowds are the subject of its swift intoxication. In the early days of the Russian Revolution, sane and cynical observers were sent by Fleet Street to report on the situation in Russia.
It was remarked that those men rapidly became infected with the doctrine and returned unbalanced — unable to explain what it was that appealed to them. The Jacobin had no more real interest in the people than the Bolshevik leader has in the proletariat ; the people who incidentally always suffer most in these upheavals were to be sacrificed heedlessly in order to make the new theories translate into fact.
This tem- porary misery, suffering and death would be but a little thing compared with the wonderful benefits to be conferred on posterity by the revolutionary system — when established. The great mystery of revolutions is the com- parative ease with which a few determined self- seekers and a handful of energetic visionaries can coerce vast masses into a genuine temporary belief in their illusions. The Irish people have always been, and so long as they endure will always be, the prey of agitators.
Education is no prophy- lactic, for the educated Irish are just as easily swept to illogical vehemence by mass hysteria as are the rude peasantry. Thus the Jacobins, though they despised the Irish for their peculiar subjugation to the Catholic priesthood, yet realised that there was no better material for swift conver- sion to the principles of anarchy, provided that some specious pretext was available.
The ideal to achieve was universal chaos. Great Britain has always stood out as the natural opponent of fantastic and illogical schemes of revolution. Slow, constitutional, inherently law-abiding, the mentality of the English people is absolutely opposed to revolution, so long as progress can be peacefully effected by con- stitutional reform.
The leaders of the French Revolution knew that so long as Great Britain was not infected with the revolutionary craze, their own movement was doomed to eventual failure and collapse. War with England was, therefore, decreed at the earliest possible moment, and the revolution in Ireland was to be part of the war measures against England. In the general welter of the revolutionary and Napoleonic wars the fact was largely lost sight of that these wars were only a secondary phenomenon of the Revolution.
The aggressive policy of the Roman Catholic Church and its natural orientation with the common enemies of England — Spain, France and the Stuarts, was a living thing in memory. The following year many Orange lodges were formed by their patrons into armed volunteer associations, and the policy was approved by Viscount Castlereagh, then Chief Secretary. In the Orange troops were invaluable in crushing the rising.
The much debated matter of the Act of Union was not touched by the Orange Society as such, the Grand Lodge issuing repeated instructions that no discussions were to take place on the subject in the lodges lest dissension rise and the society be weakened. Despite the repeated asseverations of the Orange Society that, while it would not admit Catholics or trust them, yet it was no enemy to any loyal man whatever his religion might be ; nevertheless, it must be admitted that religious bigotry and intolerance play a large part to this day.
This mutual intolerance and bigotry are still marked Irish characteristics, but to-day the balance of intolerance lies with the Orangeman. In Ulster the lines of religious cleavage follow the political division, Protestant-Unionist, Catholic-Nationalist, and, as the latter party has now been almost entirely absorbed by Sinn Fein, the identity of Irish Catholicism with active treason is no mere figure of speech. We find it very hard when we are now fighting for a cause which all other nations have obtained but our poor distressed country.
The Macroom Military have shot and put to death three months ago four boys in the Ballyvourney and Ballyeary quarters, west of Macroom. Several times these houses were raided and turned upside down. The Military told them not to blame themselves, their Protestant neighbours were the cause of it. The Macroom were coming to meet those Military to Dunmanway to show them those houses the Black and Tans did not know them. After the suppression of the United Irishmen the society, as such, disappeared, but within a year or two we find a renaissance of the old agrarian Catholic secret societies which had been absorbed into the Defenders and thence into the United Irishmen.
The provisions of the Insurrection Act which forbade the possession of arms and enforced a curfew at nightfall were in operation until , when with its relaxation appears the Ribbon Society, about The members of this organisation were known as Ribbon men from the fact that one of their signs of identi- fication was the displaying of certain ribbons as part of their attire. The Caravats hailed from Tipperary, Kil- kenny, Cork and Limerick, and were a faction society bitterly opposed by the rival society of Shanavests, who were organised in the same territory.
In the main the members were uneducated savages, but a sprinkling of merchants, schoolmasters and priests were a leavening of the whole. But it is worthy of note that the mechanism of traditional secret societies in Ireland was always kept intact by the survivors of successive ill-fated rebellions. The disappearance of the Jacobin motif is probably due to several causes.
In the first place only Irishmen of a certain standard of education were likely to be converted to its principles ; secondly, the Jacobin was usually a town-dweller, whereas the bulk of the Ribbon men were peasantry; thirdly, the Catholic clergy had realised that the vaunted principles of liberty and equality which had attracted them had not been applied to the Church in any country where the Revolution had made headway, and that Jacobinism and Christianity were incompatible.
The agrarian objects of the Ribbon men were to prevent landlords from changing or evicting their tenants, or new tenants from taking up farms whose previous tenants had been evicted. Just as the Orange Society refused to admit Catholics, so the various Ribbon organisations were entirely confined to Catholics ; and, despite their dedication to crime, the rules insisted that the members should have fulfilled their religious duties at least once every six months.
Once again an open movement was to begin, and the subterranean organisations were to be used as the hidden framework of organisation. The evidence discloses the existence of a wide-spread but nameless organisation whose members were known as Ribbon men, but whose lodges had various names for the Society. It still continued the system of organisation used by the United Irishmen. A lodge was limited to forty members and they met as a rule in the fields by night, armed sentinels being posted to guard the spot.
The lodge was under a Master or Body Master, who controlled three committee-men, each of whom was responsible for twelve members of the lodge. The Masters were represented on divisional committees allocated on the basis of four or more divisions to a geographical county. The latter at this period were : — Q. The regulations pre- scribed death as the reward of the betrayal of the secrets, and the business of the society was the anticipation and secret preparation for a period of rebellion.
These trials of showed that the hidden leaders of the Ribbon men had arranged with certain organisations of English Radicals to provoke the alarm of a rising in Ireland if the Queen Caroline — then under trial — was con- demned. The British troops would then be sent to Ireland and the English Radicals were to rise and overturn the Government, leaving the people of Ireland to exterminate the British troops and work out the kind of government they wanted for themselves.
This change was essential as, like their predecessors the White Boys, this eminently Catholic Association of Ribbon men had now been excommunicated by the Catholic Church. There was, however, no change of policy or heart.
The oath of the St. II, p. The year passed without trouble, but with incessant agitation. In Tipperary Police Barracks were burnt. The next year, , to avoid the inevitable civil war, the Catholic Relief Bill was passed. This Bill, like all other Irish Bills, was believed by the people to be the beginning of a period of Heaven on Earth. These hopes were blighted and the people were restless. By the secret societies were again active and were at war with the landlords, the clergy and the tithemcn.
A strong Coercion Act was passed, and is a black date in the chronicle of Irish lawlessness. From then to the tide of lawlessness increased, and secret societies of all kinds were rampant. The Orange Society, which had also been pro- scribed in and had been passive, became more energetic, and in a select committee was appointed to inquire into its character and objects, and had found it had some idea of dethroning the King to put the Duke of Cumberland in his place.
In the Orange Lodge of Great Britain was formally dissolved, and the Irish Lodges, although they continued, were, never- theless, rather discredited and viewed with little sympathy by the Government of the day. The monster meetings were held all over Ireland by the Repeal Association, but Peel recognised the danger, re- enacted the Arms Act, and began to apply pressure.
Already the secret organisation beneath the open movement was forming. Misery and discontent and the atrocious conduct of the absentee landlords, who did nothing to relieve their tenants, yet extorted rent, were the recruiting agents of the physical-force party. Outrage was frequent, and the Young Irelanders organised Sarsfield Clubs, whose object was drilling, arming and war.
Opposed by the power of the priests, little supported by the people, the abortive rising of '48 was easily put down, but its leaders lived to found Fenianism and the Irish Republican Brotherhood, which exists to-day as the root of all trouble in Ireland. There was little left of the craving for political independence in Republican form and barely vestiges of the old fierce spirit of social or world revolution which moved the Jacobins.
The secret societies of Ireland were almost entirely relapsed into agrarian- ism — famine and emigration had weakened their coherence — and the spirit which animated the Radical and Chartist groups of malcontents in England was not a potent force in the sister island. There was throughout this period a peculiar reaction of Irish secret societies on purely English affairs, and it came from the most unexpected quarter. The popular conception of a Chartist is a Radical, but it must not be forgotten that Tory agitators were just as active in inciting the proletariat as were the rival Whigs.
From the Orange Society had been under the Grand Mastership of the Duke of Cumberland, and in there were no less than , Orange- men in England, 40, being in London alone. The purpose of the plot was to establish the Duke of Cumberland as King of England, on the plea that William IV was still insane and the Princess Victoria a woman and a minor. The revolutionary mechanism staged by the Orangemen was in many ways similar to that of the Orleanist party of Philippe.
Wild rumours were set about. Colonel William Blennerhasset Fairman, Deputy Grand Secretary of the Orange Society, was the ruling spirit of the organisation, and he conspired to such end that loyal lodges were established in Great Britain.
Another thirty were in the army, and branches were in many of the colonies. The conspiracy prospered from to , when it was exposed by Mr. Hume, M. As the conspiracy, however, implicated half the Tory peers, some of the Bishops and most of the Army, everything passed off quietly ; im- portant witnesses vanished, and the Duke of Cumberland as Grand Master decreed the disso- lution of the Orange Society in England without recourse to violence.
The episode as a whole is peculiar in that it shows that the English Tory party was ready at that time to resort to conspiracy and physical force to gain a political issue in the face of a Liberal Cabinet and against a wave of popular democratic spirit in the people.
It is not unreasonable to suppose that the Orange Plot was mainly inspired, as it was certainly supported, by Tory Peers with Irish interests who feared the turbulent and demagogue-ridden Irish Catholic party and the effect of further concessions by the Whig Cabinet. A similar state of affairs produced the Ulster Covenant of In contrast to this abortive revolution inspired from the highest sources was the Chartist move- ment of the masses which, though in the main an agitation for political reform as opposed to revo- lution, yet contained definitely revolutionary elements.
Here again we can trace Irish influences and methods of agitation. Feargus O'Connor, the leader of the Chartists in England, was an Irishman of purely revo- lutionary type whose social panacea voiced the everlasting land-hunger of the Irish as a remedy for the working-class woes of the English. He was an opponent of the factory system and believed in a Utopia of idealised small holders of land.
A new phase in the history of Irish secret societies was now about to begin. The emancipation of the Catholics had been achieved by revolutionary rather than constitutional mechanisms and had brought its own particular trouble with it. The emancipated priesthood began to exert political control over its parishioners, and though agrarian crime continued, the priests used their influence to prevent the secret organisations being used for the purpose of political crime.
The old traditional combination of an open movement within the law reinforced by a secret organisation of criminal habits was revived in , when the Tenant Defence Society was founded with the object of enforcing by agitation legislation which was to accomplish by legal means that expropriation of property that the combined genius of Whitefeet, Rockites, Tenyalts, Molly Maguires and all other Irish terrorist societies had failed to achieve by violence.
The Archbishop of Dublin at that time was Archbishop Cullen, who was familiar with the evils resulting from the effective use of secret societies. He had been in Rome when the successful Carbonarists under Mazzini and Garibaldi drove out the Pope ; and the lesson had not been wasted.
There was no formal excommunication, but a quiet though firm ban was placed on the party. This agent, one Lucas, died while on his mission, and the general attitude of the bulk of the Irish Catholic priesthood continued hostile to both the secret societies and the open movements which had always brought war and suffering to the people of Ireland.
It is worthy of note that this attitude of the clergy which was kept from to has coincided with the greatest period of Irish pros- perity, and that despite the violent agitations of the secret societies, no big rebellion or political revolution with consequent heavy casualties occurred until it was relaxed for the period The statistical table of Firing Outrages, that is to say, cases of firing at the person or into dwelling houses, shows that the average of outrage for the decade was less than a quarter of that for an d remained at this low level until the outbreak of The power of the clergy was equal to suppressing the manifestations of revolution, but it was not equal to extirpating the seed despite the fact that education was entirely in their hands.
The anti- pathous instinct of the Irish race was only latent, and once again the exiled participants of an earlier rising returned to set a younger generation afire. The decade of marks the beginning of a new period of Irish secret organisation, noteworthy in that the centre of the conspiracy had transferred itself from Ireland to America and Paris, and that the priesthood were no longer the backers of the movement, but its opponents.
In a premature organisation, contrived to revive the tenets of the Young Irishmen of ten years earlier, was founded at Skibbereen by Jeremiah O'Donovan Rossa and James Stephens. Both these men were later to attain notoriety in criminal annals, but the Phoenix Society was abortive. In the meantime a new and important secret society was being created in America, the Irish Republican Brotherhood as it exists to-day.
They even offered their assistance to the Russian Government during the Crimean War, but nothing came of it. It is still obscure what revolutionary organi- sations already existed in America, but there were two main associations. First come the essentially Carbonarist lodges, imbued with the modified version of Jacobinism of the time, who owned allegiance to the Alta Vendita or European Grand Lodge of Carbonarism and who were engaged in the promotion of revolutions for the overthrow of Spanish Imperial and clerical power in the South and Central Americas.
These were the revo- lutionary Juntas of Latin America. The second group is the specifically Irish secret societies. In this society again changed its name to the Ancient Order of Hibernians A. The balance of probability points to the sugges- tion that there was then, as now, a criminal secret organisation of revolutionaries within the ordinary secret society. The nominal function of the A. To-day the infamous Clan-na-Gael represents the internal organisation of the A.
In a messenger was sent from New York to James Stephens, then in Dublin, asking him to get up an organisation in Ireland on resources provided from the States ; and it is clear that Stephens had already cut-and-dried plans in his mind as to how this was to be done. He stated his terms, which were agreed to, and on St. Copy in the Library at Dublin Castle. This society was the lineal descendant of the Illuminati of Weisshaupt, which had such a profound influence on the French Revolution and was protean in its manifestations, adopting many and various guises in its relentless warfare with all established authority.
In point of historical antiquity the Carbonari Society long antedated that of the Illuminati, but it was captured by the latter between and The Alta Vendita or Grand Lodge of the Order was not openly constituted till , and even then the members of the Alta Vendita were con- trolled by a still more secret group whose existence was not even suspected.
The ritual of Carbonarism was symbolic and impressive, but was a typical reconstructive ritual of the early part of last century. To the higher degrees of tried Carbonari alone was the real object of the Society expounded. The candidates had to be true friends of Liberty and ready to fight all tyrannical Governments.
The Carbonari ritual, oaths, etc. In the main, though, the principles — Liberty and Republicanism — never varied. The grand secret doctrine, the subversion of all authority, was known only to the inner circle. Great Britain fostered the organisation at Capua as a weapon against Napoleonic Imperialism, and it spread through from Italy to France and Germany, where it became identified half a century later with the Totenbund, in The French Revolutionary period, to , marks the first phase of political Carbonarism.
The later inner circle of the Carbonari was known as the Guelphic Knights, which was organised in councils or circles of six members who were unknown to one another, and only communicated by one messenger, known as The Visible. Their supreme council sat at Bologna in about They had no written communications.
Another offshoot was the Centres, who rose in Lombardy. These recognised one another by pass- words. The basis of all these organisations was politically Carbonarism, but their method of attaining their objective was essentially military. All Liberal and Radical groups were merged in the scheme, and Lafayette was one of the titular presidents. He was one of the leaders of the secret movement and was co- operating with Lord Palmerston, who, to a large extent, favoured the European revolution and who was himself a Freemason and hostile to the Bourbon Louis Philippe.
There is, as yet, no definite proof of direct affiliation between Carbonarism and any Irish society, but there are marked analogies, both in object and mechanism, and there is always the fact that any revolution in Europe has had an immediate echo in turbulent Ireland without the need of propaganda from the European source.
Stephens applied to Ireland a mechanism of secret organisation, just as in our own time Arthur Griffiths adapted the political policy with which Hungary once fought for separation, to serve an Irish end. America, at the beginning of the nineteenth century, was full of political refugees, and the Republic had been hailed since the day of Lafayette as the promised liberator of a bound Europe.
The Carbonari — as such — played little part in the affairs of the United States, but, in various guises, the doctrines of the society were rooted in Latin America, at that time under the scarlet and golden banner of Imperial Spain. The Juntas of the Revolutionists may out- wardly have owned slender connection with the Grand Lodges and Supreme Councils of Europe, but they were animated by the same impulses, energised from the same fierce centres, and paid homage to the great unknown European leaders.
The Latin Americans, as a whole, were anti- dynastic and anti-Papal, though not, as were the extremists of France and Germany, anti-Christian or Atheist. Ireland was represented in this by who can say what sympathetic bonds.
As a nation they were comprehensively Papal ; the true Carbonaro or Republican can, at that period, have had little sympathy for such a reactionary race. Little known, and little liked, they seemed to have drawn no effective support from the powers that everywhere else were the propagandists and warriors of the revolutionary age. Perhaps these acute philosophers were disinterested and had gauged the Irish incapacity for self-government at that time ; but, in all probability, it was not only this, but the religious question.
Neither Ireland nor Poland was helped by the Carbonari, and as late as the whole weight of the revo- lutionary societies, led by the Italian lodges, was thrown against any attempt to re-establish the independence of Poland. Petrucelli della Gatina declared to the Chamber at Turin that the Poles were still Roman Catholic and would, on their emancipation, offer to the Pope their blood, their swords and their fortunes. A recent school of thought attributes the control of the network of revolutionary organisations to a combination of German and Jewish interests which formed the hidden power behind the order of the Illuminati and later exercised control over the Alta Vendita and the extremist socialist and communist organisations of to-day.
Certain it is that the exal- tation of religious mysticism is tranmisssible, and there are those among us who recognise in the inverted mysticism of revolutionary fervour a sacramental Satanism which is, in its way, as potent and as inexplicable as the exaltation of the saints. The year saw the introduction of the new Irish-American version of the I. The resources which were to come to Ireland were to come from Irish-Americans, and the motive which inspired the flow was far less love of Ireland than a searing hate of Britain.
Unfortunately, it is a hatred which the British will never recognise and can never comprehend. Stephens crossed to America at the end of and established, or rather re-organised, the existing Irish revolutionary body there on the same model as that of the I. The Phoenix leaders were not arrested until December 5th, , and Stephens did not return from America to Dublin until the trouble had blown over.
Essentially military in idea, it was established on the circle principle, probably because this was the simplest form of organisation for absorbing existing local clubs. In the original plan a circle was, roughly, a regiment whose Centre or ' A ' ranked as a colonel. Each complete circle, therefore, had an establishment of members. So help me God. The basis for the ban placed by the Church on any secret oath-bound society is technically that no Catholic may take an oath of secrecy which binds him to keep the secrets of his society from his Father Confessor.
In the case of some Catholic secret societies, such as the A. Fenianism, being both secret and decidedly anti-clerical, was not only banned technically, but most effectively, and there was also another serious trouble which threatened it.
The American Civil War was in progress and the supply of funds for the cause was, for a time, both intermittent and slender. The paper was seditious and provocative, and under cover of attacking the influence of the priesthood in politics, was markedly anti-clerical.
This news- paper was financed by American money, and in America the movement was developing vigorously. In November, , a grand National Convention of the Fenian Brotherhood met in Chicago and publicly admitted the object of the Society, that is to say, the separation of Ireland from the British Empire and its establishment as an independent Republic.
It was also declared that the same programme was to be effected in Canada. In the following year this annual Convention was held in Cincinnati, and a resolution was passed to the effect that the next convention would be held on Irish soil.
The proceedings were semi- public, and the deluded Irish Americans subscribed liberally to the funds, which were reported to be in excess of a quarter of a million pounds. In America the Society was but semi- secret, making no mystery of its aims, its nightly drilling and all the prelude to an armed expedition. The British attitude during the Civil War, the Alabama incident and other contributory causes, were well worked up by the hostile Irish elements. The affair was progressing famously when, on September 14th, , the Dublin authorities, who were thoroughly well- informed, raided the offices of The Irish People and arrested the staff.
From this prison he escaped through the nominal complicity of a warder, John Breslin, who was also a member of the I. Stephens alone of his associates was thus miraculously released, and walked through Dublin, taking boat to Scotland and, after a while, passing through London, reached safe asylum in Paris.
His colleagues received and served various sentences of hard labour. The collapse of the I. Sufficient that it has proved recreant to the trust Never in the his- tory of the Irish people did they repose so much confidence in their leaders ; never before were they so basely deceived and treacherously dealt with. These paid patriots and professional martyrs, not satisfied with emptying our treasury, con- nived at posting the English authorities in advance of our movements.
AND FENIANS 61 in later years it was a matter of common knowledge that Stephens, besides being Head Centre, had also an agreement with the British Government, which threw a peculiar light on his immunity from arrest and his later escape from prison and leisurely retreat to France. At this period, though, , he still retained the confidence of his dupes.
The councils of the Fenian Brotherhood in America were troubled, but they adhered to the programme of the Chicago Convention and decided to invade Canada. On the next day, a small force of Canadian Volun- teers met them at Ridgeway, defeated them, and they fled back to the United States.
In the meantime, the organisation of the I. A general rising was promoted, which was to take place on Christmas Eve, A steady flow of mischievous Irish-Americans began to come over, ostensibly to visit the old country, actually to create trouble. Stephens was awaited to head the insurrection, but Christmas passed without his appearance and no rising took place. The situation then became troublesome.
Ireland was full of I. The plot was more than a mere idea for a startling but futile coup, for Chester Castle was an armoury and it was later revealed that the idea was to seize the armoury, distribute its contents to parties of Irish from the big cities, and start an outrage campaign in all the big cities of Britain, paying particular care to incite the mobs to looting and arson. During the nth, Chester filled with groups of hopeful Hibernians, who walked about and looked at shop-windows in an objectless kind of way ; but they found the Castle and the authorities prepared.
That night they walked away without making an attack. The following day a Dublin contingent of Fenians, who had come over to partake, if not in the battle, at least in the spoil, were arrested at Liverpool as they came off the boat. The Government, as usual forewarned, but for once prepared, had no difficulty in suppressing the rising.
They were promptly re-exported to the United States. AND FENIANS 63 revolutionary tradition, sought safety in flight ; abandoning their followers they fled to England, where they were arrested at Manchester during the following September ; an attempt to rescue them from a prison van led to the killing of a policeman who was inside, by an enthusiast who fired a pistol through the lock.
For this murder the un- imaginative English hanged three of the Fenians who took part in it. In December a further outrage took place in Great Britain, which was also connected with an attempt to release prisoners. Two members of the I. There were thus bodies claiming supreme authority at Cork, at Dublin and in Connaught, as well as Stephens in Paris and the original Kelly Directory now established in London. This was still the most dangerous group, for it was definitely criminal and had joined hands with revolutionary democracy.
The principle was simple. A man was chosen for the deed and he was accompanied by others who would shoot him if he failed to carry it out. The work of the Kelly Directorate in London at this period is extremely obscure, but there is no doubt that it was in close touch with the members of the Internationale, which later came to a head as the notorious Commune of Paris, with the Marxists and with obscurer Anarchist groups. He appears to have been a violent social revolutionary and was one of the leading malefactors of the Paris Commune.
He had in earlier youth been a Garibaldian and was intimate with many secret societies besides the Irish organisations. By both the I. In new influences in America and Paris succeeded in reforming the I. Direc- torate in London, and the organisation became not only a mainspring of revolutionary endeavour in Ireland, but a definite element in the complex I.
This association had little to do with working men, but represented or claimed to represent a general association embracing a wide variety of revolutionary social-democratic organisations. The Marianni, the Freres de la Republique of Lyons and Marseilles, the Fenians of Ireland, the innumerable secret societies of Russia and Poland, the remains of the Carbonari, joined up with the new Society. These doctrines were accepted by the Internationale at the Basle Conference of , and in December of the same year, the General Council of the Internationale which was established in London, addressed a message of sympathy and support to the Irish Republican Brotherhood.
To the revolutionists the Irish have ever been worthless except for one thing, the utility of the Irish antinomial and antipathous instinct. Ireland, or rather the Irish, represent a weak spot in the solid armour of Britain, and the success of any scheme of world- revolution depends on upsetting that sheet-anchor of commerce and prosperity, the British Con- stitutional system.
This was clearly recognised by Marx in in the Instruction which he issued from the London General Council to the Congress of the Inter- nationale in Geneva. The doctrines held by the Internationale group during the period were not over-clearly defined. Marx was the apostle of State Socialism and Collectivism, but an equally important party followed the creed of anarchy elaborated by Bakunin and his followers, though neither of these mutually incompatible schools of thought crystal lised out till later and both theories had then undoubted influence on Irish affairs.
The sympathy and support accorded to the nationalist Irish Sinn Fein rebellion of by all Internationalist and social revolutionary elements find their initial motive in the instruc- tions laid down by Karl Marx fully fifty years ago. Our first care is to push the revolution in England.
To this end we must strike the first blow in Ireland. During his stay in England on his Fenian mission he paid particular attention to the problem of how London might be captured, held and burnt. He went to Woolwich, where he was received by I. After the suppression of the Paris branch of the Internationale it was Cluseret who organised the workers as a secret communist revolutionary society.
The man who called him- self a Fenian General, and studied how to break and bum the British dockyards, had resolved that, if he failed in his designs on Paris, Paris should be levelled to the ground. It should be borne in mind that the revolutionists of all countries at this period had only developed the tactical side of their warfare in so far as it affected cities. It traces its origin back through a permanent secret society known as the Knights of the Inner Circle, which, in turn, descended from the Knights of St.
Patrick, known as the Ancient Order of Hibernians to-day. It was originally a seceding circle the Brian Boru of the United Irishmen, an American society tracing back to The Clan is not entirely confined to Catholics, but also accepts other Irish, provided they admit to a belief in the existence of the Deity. The first act of the Clan was to reorganise the I. In its early days the Clan drew some distinction between rebellion and murder, and was originally a purely patriotic organisation for the removal of British control of Ireland by force of arms, and it still retained many of the old Fenian ideas and leaders, as it had practically absorbed the remains of their organisation.
In essence the Clan was to be a reconstructed purified Fenian movement, not semi-secret, but entirely secret. This crazy expedition brought a new division into the Irish- American secret societies. Rossa then established a secret society known as The Irish Confederation, which represented Irish interests such as the I.
In addition, the Clan had adopted a conventional Masonic ritual, oaths, grips, hailing and distress signs, passwords and mysteries in general. The original organiser of the Clan had called it the United Brotherhood, and in all its work a simple letter-cipher composed of the next letter in the alphabet after the one really meant, was utilised. To this day the Clan speaks and writes of the I. The candidate was then balloted for and cross- examined as to his name, age, antecedents, etc.
He had also to testify to his belief in the Deity. We have deemed you worthy of our confidence and friendship. You are now within these secret walls. The men who summoned you have taken all the obligations of our Order and are en- deavouring to fulfil its duties. These duties must be cheerfully complied with or not under- taken. The lamp of the bitter past plainly points our path, and we believe that the first step on the road to freedom is secrecy.
Destitute of secrecy defeat will again cloud our brightest hopes Once a member of this Order, you must stand by its watchwords of Secrecy, Obedience and Love. With this assurance, and understanding, as you do, that the object of this organisation is the freedom of J Ireland , will you submit yourself to our rules and regulations and take our obligation without mental reservation?
That I will never reveal the secrets of this organisation to any person or persons not entitled to know them. That I will obey and comply with the constitution and laws of the V. United Brother- hood, i. That I will foster a spirit of unity, nationality and brotherly love among the friends of J Ireland. I further- more swear that I do not belong to any other J Irish revolutionary society antagonistic to this organisa- tion and that I will not become a member of such society while connected with the V.
The essential precaution for the maintenance of secrecy was the rule that all docu- ments, when read, had to be burnt before the Brotherhood, a rule also common to the I. In the Clan took charge of this money jointly with Rossa.
During this period, while the secret societies were developing their resources in America, a new figure had appeared in Irish politics. The condition of the Irish tenantry was very bad and the after- math of the famine had left Irish estates heavily encumbered with debt. The owners had raised rents which were not paid by the tenants, and this led to eviction, resistance and outrage. Six months later he journeyed to the United States, ostensibly to see members of his family, but actually charged with a definite mission.
Parnell hoped to achieve it by Home Rule, the extremists were pledged to a Republic. Davitt was welcomed by many of the Clan, including John Devoy, J. Luby, General Millen, Dr. Carroll, and other notorious characters. During his stay he worked out the policy which was later to be known as that of the Land League, and in he returned with Devoy, General Millen and Carroll, who were arranging for the supply of rifles and arms to members of the I.
The influence of this agreement on Irish politics and crime was incalculable, for there were now three distinct but combined mechanisms of agitation to occupy the Irish people : Con- stitutional political agitation ; agrarian agitation, outrage and boycotting ; and lastly subterranean revolutionary ferment preparing for armed insur- rection promoted under cover of the other two agitations.
His speeches were essentially revolutionary, as may be gathered from the two following extracts. At Lynn, U. We attempt to improve the condition of affairs, and we are called communists and land-robbers.
In France, the revolution swept away the landlords with- out a penny's compensation. Perhaps, if the Irish land- lords do not heed the lesson, another revolution may sweep them away. The right to carry arms is denied, and that birthright of every freeman is punished in Ireland with imprisonment for two years. When she England is at war and beaten to her knees, the idea of the Irish Nationalists may be realised.
The feudal tenure and the rule of the minority have been the corner-stone of English misrule ; pull out that corner-stone, break it up, destroy it, and you undermine English misgovernment ; when we have undermined English misgovernment we have paved the way for Ireland to take her place amongst the nations of the earth, and let us not forget that is the ultimate goal at which all we Irishmen aim. The re-agitation of the Land Leaguers threw Ireland into a ferment. Agrarian crime increased by leaps and bounds, rents were not paid, landlords and their agents were murdered or shot at.
The new Parliament under Gladstone succeeded even less than had its predecessor under Beaconsfield, and the Liberals were slowly being obliged to adopt firm measures. To his companion, Mr. Sullivan and others for conspiracy to induce tenants not to pay their rents and to deter them from doing so by threats of boycotting and intimidation, etc.
This flight took place almost simultaneously with the arrest of Michael Davitt on revocation of his ticket-of- leave. The League was thus disorganised, but agitation continued as before. Speeches were moderated, but outrages increased. Thence they issued a manifesto advising all tenants to pay no rent. The money for agitation was duly sent from Paris, and, though the main leaders were in prison, agitation, outrage and violence continued unabated.
On the 2nd May, , Parnell, having given certain undertakings to the Government to use the whole influence of his machine to put down outrage and calm the country, he and his colleagues were released. Four days later. Lord Frederick Cavendish and Mr. Burke were murdered in Phoenix Park, May 6th, , by a secret society known as the Irish Invincibles. It is, perhaps, a melancholy contemplation to note that the sturdy Victorian world of those times was more profoundly shocked by this cold-blooded murder than it has been by the far more terrible events of and Moral vision was clearer, and the people of that day still possessed percep- tions that the great blood-bath of a world-war had not dulled.
No policy that bore blood-guilt could be condoned, nor could there then be parley with those who had sanctioned murder. The murder woke the British public, and the immediate answer was a Crimes Bill almost as powerful as the Restoration of Order in Ireland Act of to-day.
The reaction from the crime checked outrage, and the mass of the Irish people again returned to the path of constitutional, rather than criminal, agitations. The Land League had garnered into its net, not only the I. These organisations were un- doubtedly subsidised by the Land League, which was in turn the agent of the revolutionary societies in the United States.
At his trial on 23rd January, , for an outrage in December, , he turned informer and admitted that all the money for the organisation of outrages in the provinces came from Dublin. Death to the traitor. It became clear that the organisation of the Irish Invincibles was not a definite branch of the Land League, nor even a particular circle of the I. Neither Parnell nor Davitt was proved to be implicated in the Invincible crimes, but the Land League officials under them certainly were.
The Executive of the Irish Invincibles was joined by members of the I. In Dublin nearly every Invincible was an I. Very little documentary record of the conspiracy exists, as all written orders or instruc- tions were burnt when read. The chief of the Invincibles was P. Byrne, Secretary of the Land League, Dr. Hamilton Williams and others, were high officials of the Invincible Executive. The membership of the Irish Invincibles was limited to a nominal figure of , and through its secret affiliation with the I.
Tynan, the leading assassin, claims for it a great deal more influence than it actually possessed, and claims a member- ship of many thousands. What then will our witness be, and what are our expectations? In this number of Unio cum Christo, we will take heart through solid biblical theol- ogy, be edified by the example of those who have suffered following the Master, and be encouraged to follow their pattern by their brave words in extremis. This will lead us to look away to the Lord, who has a compassionate heart of love for his children, who is powerful to save, and to lead his chosen ones to glory.
Martus is a forensic term describing a person who knows the truth and can testify before a court of law, faithfully declaring what has been seen or heard. In the New Testa- ment, the witness to the truth of Christ and the power of salvation often lead to arrest, exile, and death. For this reason, the Greek word was trans- literated as martyr, one who suffers and dies to inherit the crown of life, rather than turning back on the faith.
To witness is to testify before others. This is what the apostles did, they who had direct knowledge of Christ Acts Their personal witness was delivered to others as the faith of the saints 2 Tim , the paradosis 1 Cor —3. The Holy Spirit divinely attests to truth in inspired apostolic revela- tion, and the human witness is the witness Christ bears to his saving power John So Paul calls on God as witness to the integrity and the truth- fulness of the gospel of the Son Rom God the Holy Spirit is the final arbitrator of the reliability and trustworthiness of this testimony.
The hearts of those who are confronted by the truth are either softened to become hearts of flesh, receptive of the truth, or hardened to become like stone in rejecting the witness of the word. Those who bear witness to Christ have more than just good expectations; they know that the Spirit will work with the truth. The dynamic of word and Spirit creates situations of conflict and con- frontation.
The opposition may range from indifference to violent rejection, gentle ridicule to persecution. This is part of the age-old conflict between the seed of the promise and that of the serpent. What is surprising is not that the word of witness causes opposition. It was ever so—Jesus himself recognized this to be the fate of the prophets from Abel in Genesis 4 to Zechariah in 2 Chronicles , covering the range of the Old Testament canon Luke This, then, is the expectation of believers: suffering and persecution in the new covenant.
It is the eschatological suffering with Christ in the end time that will reach a paroxysm before his return in glory. On a global scale, the New Testament does not promise us that things will get better and better; they may well get worse as opposition to Christ and his witness grows, but he will be with his ambassadors to the end of the age. The world hated both the Son and the Father, and will not treat witnesses to the truth in any other way.
The words of Jesus do not apply to his listeners alone. Paul continues in the same vein about the present evil age, dominated by those whose minds are blinded by Satan Gal ; 2 Cor COM return of the Lord in glory. Suffering with Christ is fundamental to Christian identity, because it is the consequence of witness to the truth. The Lord was despised and rejected, put to death in weakness, but raised in glory.
The gospel is foolish ignorance for those who are perishing, the wise of this world, but for those who believe, it is the power of God for salvation and the wisdom of God, against all con- ventions and appearances. Pascal got it right in his famous wager pari : winning everything in this life is nothing next to losing eternity. Persecution and opposition seem to be the bane of the church, which is weak in terms of the powers of this age.
This is no beggarly apologia pro vita ecclesiae, but simply what the eye of faith sees: that out of human weakness comes divine strength, out of death comes new life, and out of suffering glory. The old creation is in labor pains 2 Richard B. William S. Barker and W. Robert Godfrey Grand Rapids: Zondervan, , The world will never see it, nor did the world see it in the Lord. Only the eye of faith sees it, and this truth will strengthen any knees that tremble in the heat of opposition, and renew hope for those who are down-trodden to the point of despair.
Dying we live, losing we win, because the way of the cross is the way of victory. He is winning, and will win, in spite of the adversary, our sinfulness, and many failings. United with Christ, the church wins; divided from him by worldly power and compro- mise, she falls. Those who pass through fiery trial know this all too well, because they know that the way of the cross is the only hope possible. We in the West are at a certain disadvantage here. But it was not always so; these privileges were hard won through affliction and martyrdom.
At pres- ent they seem to be eroding gradually, and who knows what the future will hold if our nations persist in turning their backs on the gospel? Who can say that tribulation will not be ours one day, if a godless church and radical secularistic autonomy rule the roost? When and if this happens, our question should not be why but rather why not?
Is this not the lot of all who are faithful to the Lord Jesus? If that should be the case, we too will have the joy of winning by faith in Christ, even though everything may disintegrate all around. Such faith is hope for the hopeless and comfort for the downtrodden. While in early Judaism witness is not yet equated to martyrdom, instances of bearing witness leading to death emerge.
The study goes on to define the specific usages in various parts of the New Testament. Witness leading to suffering anticipates the later Christian notion of martyrdom. This makes it all the more important to observe syntactical and semantic contexts with some care, and especially to observe the idiolectic distinctives found in some authors.
COM I. Notes on Distribution in the New Testament Without providing the detailed data readily available in any concordance digital or otherwise and in superior articles like those in NIDNTTE,1 it may nevertheless be worthwhile to remind ourselves of some of the distribution patterns that surface in the NT.
The verb occurs 76x in the NT, but primarily in the Johannine corpus 31x in John, 10x in the Johannine letters, 4x in Rev- elation , as compared with 1x in Matthew, 1x in Luke, 8x in Paul, and 8x in Hebrews. Notes on Earlier Usage Referring to the act of bearing witness, martyria occurs once in Homer, along with several instances of martyros, referring to the person who bears witness.
Later classical authors prefer martys for the latter. Occasionally martys can be used to refer to gods often cited is Pindar Pyth. Very often and certainly important are the many instances in which this word group is used in the legal sphere. In such cases witnesses are expected to give truthful testimony without constraint such as torture. Usage in the LXX follows roughly similar patterns, though several dis- tinctive occurrences surface. For example, martyrion in Psalm and elsewhere e.
By and large, however, martyria occurs rather sparsely in the LXX. That martys may be called to give testimony in a legal context, confirming an agreement or an event. Sometimes God himself is invoked as the witness e. More com- monly, however, the word refers to human witnesses—e.
Considerable emphasis is placed on the responsibility of witnesses to speak the truth, along with severe warnings against lying witnesses e. The concern to establish and confirm the truth and avoid mendacity is strengthened by the procedural stipulation that certain kinds of decisions can be established only on the basis of multiple witnesses Num ; Deut —7; — Despite the strong lines of continuity between the use of the witness word group in classical Greek and its use in the Greek of the Old Testament, there does not appear to be any instance where martyrion or a cognate refers to subjective convictions that have no basis in objective observation.
More in- teresting is the growing recognition in the literature of Second Temple Juda- ism that bearing witness could issue in suffering, even martyrdom. Never- theless there does not appear to be any instance in this literature of martys or any cognate of the word group referring to people who bear witness to the point of death, indeed who bear witness by dying as martyrs. The relatively few occurrences of the word group in the Synoptic Gospels 7 Cf. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, , 86— That trial conjured up evidence understood to be false by the writers of the Gos- pels: note some of the occurrences of the pseudo- compounds of our word group Matt —60 par.
Mark , and four with martyria Mark —56, 59; Luke Acts can continue this legal use of words in this group in connection with the false witness surrounding the execution of Stephen Acts ; Other NT corpora also use the words of this group in a legal sense abstract- ed from contextual overtones of false witness.
But it may be more helpful to identify distinctive uses. As there is no straight-line development of the usage of this word group across time, but rather idiolectic preferences related in part to the themes of individual au- thors, it may be misleading to present the evidence in temporal order—so I have purposely not done so. We have already observed how the relatively small number of instances of this word group in the Synoptics tends to function in a legal context and focus on the passion narrative.
But one distinctive expression draws our attention. In Matthew par. COM Jesus cf. Once again, this cannot be purely negative. And finally, the phrase eis martyrion occurs in Mark par. The most striking development of the theme of witness in Acts concerns the witness that the apostles and others bear to the resurrection of Jesus Christ—not only in contexts where the mart- word group is used e.
You be the judges! You are witnesses of these things. This element of Christian witness captures not only the Twelve and others who traveled with Jesus from the beginning ; ; , but also Paul, who likewise sees the risen Lord Jesus ; One further feature in Acts that must be noted is the use of martys.
As opposition arises against Christians and the witness they bear, it becomes increasingly clear that the way of the witness is the way of the cross. This is a mistake: the semantic crossover may be beginning in this passage, but it is not yet established. See further the comments on the Apocalypse, below. The word group occurs 35x in the Pauline corpus, with twelve of them showing up in the Pastoral Epistles. Mirroring usage in Acts, Paul bears witness to the fact that God raised Jesus from the dead 1 Cor Indeed, if Christ has not been raised, it follows that Paul and others who have borne such witness are demonstrated to be false witnesses pseudomartyres, Yet Paul does not turn martyrion into a technical expression that inevitably refers to the gospel.
It is also used to refer to the two or three witnesses required by Deuteronomy ; 2 Cor ; 1 Tim John says quite a bit about those who bear witness, but his vocabulary preference is for the words favoring action rather than identity. John the Bap- tist directs his followers to bear witness to the fact that he, John, never claimed to be the Messiah John Jesus himself does not need human testimony In 3 John, where the verb and noun together occur three times vv.
Gal The Father bears witness to Jesus e. The faith of the Samaritans begins with the testimony of the Samaritan woman—i. The witness of the disciples to Jesus is drawn into and becomes part of the witness of the Paraclete —27; cf. Jesus replies at some length: 16 I here take the traditional view, rather than the suggestion put forward by Matthew D. For the purposes of this essay, it makes little difference which option one selects: in either case, John runs from witness regarding historical events the incarnation, the resurrection to affirmation of the gospel.
But you have no idea where I come from or where I am going. You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one. But if I do judge, my decisions are true, because I am not alone. I stand with the Father, who sent me. In your own Law it is written that the testimony of two witnesses is true. I am one who testifies for myself; my other witness is the Father, who sent me. Jesus insists he is not another God, an independent God; far from it: he can do nothing by himself Yet at the same time, this unique Son does whatever he sees the Father doing, including the kinds of things that only God can do, such as making a universe and raising the dead and giving them life Meanwhile the Father, for his part, intends that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father , which inevitably means honoring him as God.
He does what the Father gives him to do; he says what the Father gives him to say. Jesus does not need John and his witness. Jesus himself has weightier witness than that of John, namely the Father himself, disclosed in the works Jesus does and in the Scriptures God provides — Jesus does not accept the witness of the Baptist in the sense that he does not accept glory from human beings When we turn to the second disputed witness passage, once again the dialogue context is important.
In other words, Jesus can testify about himself, making these spectacular claims, because what he is doing is speaking out of his own experience— and in this, he stands with his Father, who bears witness to the same truth — Thus the witness Jesus bears is witness to what he knows out of his own unique experience, but in the nature of the case it cannot be witness to what others think of as verifiable fact, since they have no similar experience. From their perspective, it is a revelatory claim, one they cannot accept.
COM hear or see the revelation God provides, the revelatory witness without which there can be no grasp of who Jesus is. The distribution in the Apocalypse of the words from our word group I summarized at the beginning of this article. Some of the dis- tinctive uses are bound up with the apocalyptic genre in which most of the book is written.
The notion of seeing the word of God is not transparent, but John probably means that what he saw was the sequence of apocalyptic visions, which constitute the message of God, the word of God. In that sense, he saw the word of God. If so, John is bearing witness to what he has personally experienced, even if that experi- ence is visionary and cannot be corroborated by other witnesses. In short, as sometimes in the Gospel of John, the content is revelatory.
As the faithful witness, there must be ways in which Jesus bears witness. Worship God! The flow of thought 19 Despite many interesting and stimulating elements in the book by Andrew T. Lincoln Truth on Trial: The Lawsuit Motif in the Fourth Gospel [Peabody: Hendrikson, ] , his reading of much of the language of witness in John as contributing to the shape of the Fourth Gospel as a lawsuit does not adequately wrestle with the revelatory nature of the witness of Jesus to himself.
James D. Ernest Peabody: Hendrickson, , The language reminds us of the reference to Stephen in Acts Both there and here in the Apocalypse, believers who bear witness to Jesus may seal their witness with their blood. These are the transitional passages that show the first stages of how the very word for witness came eventually to mean Christian martyr—that is, Christians who give their lives to maintain their witness to Jesus.
Final Theological Reflections We may usefully draw attention to four things: 1 One of the remarkable elements about Christianity is its claim to reve- lation in history. The many sacred writings of Hinduism and Buddhism are not cast the same way. As a result, there is no complex doctrine of two authors, one divine and one human, and there- fore no wrestling with the ways in which the social location or the idiolectic preferences of the human author might in some measure determine what is written.
In other words, the word came to be dissociated from its Christian roots. In some sectors today, the word has undergone another change. Such self-disclosures in history, not only in specific historical events but even in words deployed by specific historical individuals, establish the trajectories that bring us to the supreme self-disclosure in history, the incarnation of the Word.
To the Muslim, such a notion threat- ens to make God contingent; to the Christian, God remains sovereign and true in such revelation-in-history events, regardless of whether the human witnesses faithfully report what takes place, or even understand it. All of this means that the witness language of the NT is extraordinarily important.
They had been present in Jerusalem during the final week and were in a position to attest the facts of his trial, crucifixion, and burial. Above all, they were competent witnesses to vouch for the fact of his resurrection.
The four evangelists, however theologically driven they may be, are no less committed to establishing the facts of the origins of the gospel, largely based on eyewitness testimony. In the Apocalypse, John the Seer bears witness to the visions God gives him. He thus speaks from his experience, but of course the experience to which he bears witness is not in the public arena.
More importantly, Jesus testifies concerning himself, including what he has learned from the Father: all of this is real experience, but not experience that is verifiable by other witness- es. Such revelation is reported in the public arena by these witnesses in this case, by Jesus and by John , even though the revelation itself is not in the public arena—quite unlike the revelation that does actually take place in the public arena like the resurrection of Jesus.
This is one way in which NT apologetics works itself out: the claims of Christ are contested in this world in which the kingdom has been inaugurated but not yet consummated, and the witness- es of various kinds are boldly aligned to command and elicit faith e. On such a reading, the resurrection of Jesus is an event, but not a historical event; rather, it is an event open only to the eyes of faith. COM Christians faced in bearing witness toward the end of the first century paved the way for the change and made it inevitable.
In the twenty-first century, a new generation of Christian witnesses constitute the latest generation of Christian martyrs. Allen Jr. These in turn testify to Christians about the many dimensions of enduring faith.
Jesus is effectively the ultimate witness to the faith that triumphs through suf- fering. God testifies to his Son, God testifies to the faith of key biblical characters, and these charac- ters testify to Christian believers about the life of faith. By implication, the suffering and exalted Lord Jesus is the supreme witness to persevering faith —4.
As such, he is the source of ultimate encouragement and hope for disciples who struggle against opposition and sin — But the writer is not talking about the faithfulness of Moses in a general or comprehensive sense. This could include subsequent biblical prophecies about the Messiah, but most obviously points to the revelation brought by the Son of God himself, concerning the salvation he came to achieve ; —3.
Consequently, Hebrews expounds that work in terms of the fulfillment of what was revealed to Moses cf. Prophets and Psalms Hebrews uses the verb martyrein three times in relation to what God reveals elsewhere in the OT about the person and work of the Messiah. The need for the new covenant and the way it is fulfilled in Christ becomes the focus of the argument in — Acts , where God testifies in Scripture to the character of David.
Heb David G. COM II. An inclusion is formed by references to receiving testimony through faith in —2 and — As an outworking of the challenge in —39, persevering faith, even in the face of persecution and suffering, is the theme of this chapter. Strangely, however, none of the narratives from which these examples are drawn explicitly highlights faith. Michael R. But the subjective and objective dimensions of faith are linked as the chapter unfolds.
Different Dimensions of Faith a. This commendation happened as lit. His life was short, but he received a commendation from God for the faith expressed in his offerings. Faith and Perseverance The next character to be examined is Enoch. This expansion on Genesis acknowledges the Jewish tradition that he was translated or assumed into heaven without having to die.
Thomas R. This version of Gen —16 describes the dissension between Abel and Cain as arising from their different beliefs about God. Attridge, Hebrews, Gen Faith and Obedience There are no further references to the commendation of God until the concluding statement in vv. Biblical narratives are examined to see how the lives of key characters are driven by hoped-for goals and God-given perceptions of unseen realities.
This approach to the biblical record reveals the testimony of God to further dimensions of faith. God commended his faith by using it to condemn the unbelief of those around him. Gen is first recalled. His motivation was the hope of obtaining the land, which recalls the reward perspective of v. Entrance into the land required renewed faith and a fresh commitment to obedience. Contrast Schreiner, Hebrews, Wait- ing for God to provide an earthly inheritance, he came to realize that life is a pilgrimage towards a future that God alone can provide.
There is no suggestion in the Genesis narrative that Abraham engaged in a pilgrimage toward heaven. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob all died without receiving the land of Canaan as an earthly inheritance. The things promised by God were only seen and welcomed from a distance v. If they had been yearning for Mesopotamia as their place of origin, they would have had time to return and make their home there.
As in v. The situation of the patriarchs is presented in terms that show the similarity of their situation to ours, and the need for a forward-looking faith. Lane shows how the idea of a city that is firmly founded by God echoes biblical descriptions of Zion e. Hebrews takes such language to apply to the heavenly city of God, which is the ultimate destination of all true believers — Neither will it be content with the immediate blessings of life in this world.
This is the heavenly Jerusalem mentioned in — Since God had specifically declared that his offspring would be reckoned through Isaac Gen , there was seemingly no hope for the promise to be fulfilled if Isaac died. Faith and Sanctification In vv. Moses receives the great- est attention in this section.
Exod — Here we see that faith has a sanctifying effect, separating people from worldly values and commitments, motivating them to live for God and the reward of knowing him personally. Moses feared God, rather than the anger of Pharaoh, and this enabled him to leave Egypt and take the Israelites with him. Moses endured opposition and difficulty by focusing on the One who is invisible cf. As well as transforming his own life, such faith was used to bring deliverance and hope to his suffering people vv.
Exod 4— Faith and the Future Hebrews 11 draws to a close by mentioning the faith of four judges Gideon, Barak, Samson, and Jephthah , one king David , Samuel, and the prophets v. The writer then describes what these people accomplished in the polit- ical and military sphere vv. Dan — Certain women received back their dead in this life e. As they face further testing, they are encouraged to persevere with similar confidence in God and his promises —39; — The Perfecting of Believers in Christ Despite the fact that believers in both testaments share similar circumstances and are called to make similar responses, the writer concludes by emphasizing a significant difference.
Although they saw the fulfillment of certain promises in this life e. The singular noun in v. But a better hope has been introduced by the sacrifice of Christ , making it possible for Christians to approach God with confidence in the present cf. That inheritance was offered to the people of God typo- logically in the gift of the promised land and the provision of the sacrificial system, but it has only now become attainable because of the once-for-all sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
Christians must persevere with confidence in God and his promises so as to obtain the rich reward of eternal life. In this respect, the faithful who are commended in Scripture offer both encouragement and challenge. William D. Deut ; Witnesses are generally more than observers, being required to make known to others what they have observed or ex- perienced themselves e.
Only Acts comes close to later Christian use of the term martys to describe some- one who gives testimony to the truth of Christianity as a martyr. Allison A. Schreiner Hebrews, contends that both senses may be in- tended in the context. Croy, Endurance, COM Although athletic imagery is used to describe the Christian life in v. Ps Their conduct should be modelled on his earthly perseverance; but they are also to meditate on his session, the reward of that perseverance.
Westcott, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 3rd ed. London: Macmillan, , Croy, Endurance, — In this way, Jesus is presented as more than an example of persevering faith: he is the enabler of such faith for believers. By his salvific achievement, he created a new dimension and channel for the fusion of obedience, confi- dence, hope and fidelity, because he pioneered this road.
Compare the focus on looking to the reward in , 14—16, 26; — So also in Hebrews —4 there is a challenge for believers to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, persevering in the obedience that faith makes possible cf. The Testimony of Christians Although Hebrews does not use the language of witness with reference to Christians, it is easy to see how this theme might be developed.
Those who focus on the glorified Lord Jesus in this way will be ready to listen to the exhortations of Scripture, such as Proverbs —12 cited in —6. In their struggle, they will learn to sup- port and strengthen one another —13; cf. With this pattern of life, they will bear witness to the distinctive character and sustaining power of Christ-directed and Christ-empowered faith.
This could refer to formal acts of confession or praise when they gathered together —25 , but also to opportunities in every- day life to identify Jesus as the reason for the hope that they had and the lives they lived cf. The arti- cle explains the problems with regard to dating his martyrdom and the method of separating out the anachronistic and hagiographical details within the account.
There is nothing in the Martyrdom that could not have been written in the mid-second century, and there is no compelling reason why it must be dated considerably later than the events it describes. The Origin of the Text P olycarp of Smyrna is one of the most fascinating, albeit little- known, fathers of the early church. His literary output was modest, consisting as far as we know of a single epistle to the Philippians, but his real claim to fame lies elsewhere.
According to ancient tradition, he was ordained by the Apostle John and was himself the teacher of Irenaeus, whose great book Against Heresies is one of our chief sources for the theology of the post-apostolic church.
If these claims are true, then Polycarp is one of the main links in the chain connecting the New Testament with the flowering of Christian literature in the latter half of the second century. COM Philomelium. That Polycarp became famous for his martyrdom at a time when the church was growing in strength and consequently producing more mar- tyrs is universally accepted, but beyond that scholarly opinion is divided. At one extreme are the traditionalists, who take the Martyrdom at face value and resist all attempts to turn it into a hagiography with only a limited connection to historical facts.
In the middle are the vast majority of scholars who believe that the Martyrdom of Polycarp is based on historical facts, but that these have been embellished for didactic and hagiographical purposes. These scholars differ among themselves about where the line between fact and fiction should be drawn, but there is a consensus of sorts, to the extent that they all agree that it is impossible to know this for sure!
We know this because the concluding paragraphs of the extant versions tell us so. It appears that the original letter was written by a certain Evarestus, who must have been a scribe of the Smyrnaean church, and that it had been taken to Philomelium by a letter-carrier called Marcion.
It was subsequently retranscribed by an Isocrates or Socrates , and finally by Pionius, who is known to have been martyred on March 12, a. Its bishop attended the first council of Constantinople in a. Most of the details and conclusions in this section are drawn from this study, which is now the most complete and reliable available. The English translation used for this article is J.
Lightfoot and J. Harmer, The Apostolic Fathers, ed. Holmes Grand Rapids: Baker, , — Earlier and later dates have sometimes been suggested, but most scholars now rule them out because it is harder to connect them to external events and to other people mentioned in the narrative.
Much has been made of these differences, but they are very minor. In total, Eusebius lacks only six words, and this may well have been a slip of the pen, either by him or more likely by the scribe who made the copy he was using. Certainly it is unwise to base any firm conclusion on such slender evidence. COM In the nature of the case, there can be no definitive answer to questions of this kind.
What can be said however is that there is nothing in the Martyrdom that could not have been written in the mid-second century, and so there is no compelling reason why it must be dated considerably later than the events it describes. Further research into the period and the evidence of parallel texts make it clear that the conditions surrounding martyrdom and the reac- tions of the church to it were more advanced by a.
Furthermore, some elements in the Martyrdom seem to reflect the second century more than the third. One of these is the role ascribed to Jews, who appear to be in collusion with pagans in their attempts to persecute Christians, and another is the apparent ease with which Christians could be accused and put to death without due process. The latter phenomenon, in particular, was severely criticized by Christian apologists such as Tertullian, writing around a. A third feature of the Martyrdom that would have seemed odd to later generations is the paucity of references to the New Testament, even though there are clear parallels to the suffering and death of Jesus.
This reluctance to cite the Gospels is understandable in a mid-second century text, when their status as canonical Scripture was still new and unfamiliar, but it would have been almost unthinkable a generation later, as the evidence of both Irenaeus and Tertullian indicate. On the whole, therefore, a date for the Martyrdom that puts it before a. Having said that, it is also clear that the Martyrdom is not a strictly histor- ical account of events.
Whether the words attributed to the saint are authentic is impossible to say, and some of them such as his prayer appear to be too carefully structured to have been spontaneous. However, by the standards of the ancient world, that does not necessarily compromise their genuine- ness, because literary convention almost always insisted that the speeches of great men should be recorded stylistically, rather than literally. In other words, thoughts appropriate to the occasion were put into their mouths and everyone took it for granted that that is what they should have said, whether they actually did so or not.
So universal was this practice that anything else would have seemed abnormal to the Philomelians. Furthermore, there are plenty of incidental details surrounding the martyrdom which give it an air of authenticity and that must be taken into account when assessing the historical accuracy of the text. Much more suspect from this point of view are the parallels drawn, ex- plicitly or implicitly, with the suffering and death of Jesus.
The best answer to this seems to be that the parallels between Polycarp and Jesus are not consis- tent—for example, the interrogator was called Herod, but the proconsul who condemned Polycarp was not named Pilate—and usually too trivial to have any theological meaning in themselves.
It is much easier to assume that the author s of the Martyrdom drew parallels with Jesus as and when they noticed them and that modern critics have suggested additional similarities that did not occur to the original writers than it is to suppose that somebody deliberately sat down to remake Polycarp in the image of Jesus.
Granted that the Martyrdom is more than a historical account, how should it be described? Here scholars appear to be at a loss for words. COM glorify Polycarp and uphold his example as a model for others to follow. In a sense, that is hard to deny, but the Martyrdom lacks the features of classical hagiography that would make this categorization definitive.
The strange things that occurred during his martyrdom were not so odd that no natural explanation is possible, and there have been scholars who have attempted to deal with them in that way—though admittedly without carrying much conviction. Perhaps the best approach to the text is to think of it as primarily pastoral in intention.
The Smyrnaeans were concerned not merely to glorify their deceased bishop but also to fortify the faith of those who might easily lose heart at the thought that the only fate that awaited them as Christians was persecution and an ignominious death. They wanted to make it clear that God had a purpose in allowing such things to happen, and that believers could rest secure in the knowledge that their potential sacrifice would not be in vain. As humbler folk, they could hardly expect to imitate Jesus to the degree that Polycarp apparently did, but their own sufferings were not in vain.
Polycarp appears as a kind of intermediary between Jesus and the ordinary church member, and that, after all, was what a bishop and leader of the church was expected to be. The Content of the Text As found in modern editions, the Martyrdom of Polycarp is conventionally divided into twenty-two chapters, most of which are further subdivided into sections, making a total of fifty-three in all or fifty-four with the intro- ductory inscription and covering no more than seven pages of a paperback book.
The Smyrnaeans wanted the Philomelians to understand that the recent events in Smyrna, in which a dozen members of the church had lost their lives, had been intended by God as a witness to the gospel. The letter stresses that Polycarp imitated the example of Christ, not just by his death, but even more by the way he patiently waited to be betrayed and did not seek martyrdom. It appears that for the Smyrnaeans, the most significant thing was that Polycarp knew that his first duty was to care for his flock, which he could not have done if he had put himself for- ward as a sacrifice on behalf of others.
Staying alive and protecting the church was his primary task; only when the authorities came to get him did he surrender and accept that his imitation of Christ would lead to his death. The chapter lists different kinds of punish- ments to which they were subjected, and reads very much like an elaboration of Hebrews — A man called Germanicus took on the wild ani- mals set upon him, with some success before they finally overwhelmed him, 13 If it had been deliberate, we would expect that more of the text would have been omitted.
The words themselves are so few, and so well integrated into the text, that it is hard to believe that they could have been added by a later hand. He quotes a number of biblical and apocryphal parallels, particularly from 4 Maccabees, but makes no mention of Hebrews.
COM a feat which amazed the onlooking crowd. It is only in chapter five that Polycarp makes an appearance, and his be- havior appears in sharp contrast to that of Quintus. Far from seeking mar- tyrdom, Polycarp fled the city at the urging of the church.
He went to a house in the country where he spent his time in prayer, but three days before his arrest he had a dream in which his pillow was set on fire, and he con- cluded that he would be burnt alive. The sixth chapter explains what happened next. A posse had been sent out to find Polycarp and arrest him, so he fled to another house just before the one in which he had been staying was discovered.
The soldiers realized that their quarry had escaped and seized two young slaves, one of whom con- fessed under torture. The writers of the letter had no sympathy for this, re- garding the slave boy as a Judas who betrayed his master, a comparison that was made all the easier because the man who had sent the soldiers and to whom Polycarp was delivered when found bore the name of Herod. Chapter seven recounts how the slave boy led the soldiers to Polycarp and arrested him on a Friday evening.
Many have seen allusions to the ar- rest of Jesus in this account, but while there are some similarities, there are also important differences. Eusebius took this to mean that Germanicus was too young to die, and that if he had recanted, he could have been spared to live a long life. But it may equally mean that Germanicus was too old to be forced to endure such a punishment. See Heb However, this is a supposition that has no support from the text, and the Phrygian connection may well have been accidental.
Polycarp offered them a meal and asked for an hour to pray, whereas Jesus had already eaten his last meal with his disciples and was praying when he was arrested. The eighth chapter recounts how Polycarp was taken for questioning. It begins by telling us that he spent the hour of prayer allotted to him in inter- cession for the church throughout the world, a reminder that Polycarp un- derstood that he was united with all Christians everywhere and that their welfare was more important than his own.
They tried to get him to re- cant and acknowledge Caesar as Lord by offering incense to him not to one of the pagan gods , but he refused. They then became abusive and bundled him out of their carriage so fast that he scraped his leg—a detail that has the ring of authenticity—though he was too preoccupied with everything else that was going on to notice or feel the pain. In the circumstances, it could hardly have been he who explained it to them!
How can I blaspheme my king who has saved me? Some have claimed 19 Here again, some commentators have seen an allusion to Jesus, who entered Jerusalem on a donkey five days before he was put to death, but the circumstances were completely different. COM that he was baptized as a boy and so was in his nineties when he was mar- tyred, but that seems unlikely, and it is easier to conclude that he was bap- tized as an infant, the first clear case of this in Christian literature.
In reply, the proconsul told him to persuade the crowd gathered to watch his execution, but Polycarp refused to do that. He claimed, quite correctly, that Christians were expected to give an account of their faith to rulers and judges when asked to do so, but that they were under no obligation to bend to the cries of an unruly mob.
He was then threatened with the stake, to which he replied that physical suf- fering for an hour was nothing compared to the fire of everlasting judgment, which he would have to face if he recanted. Whether this is an accurate ac- count of what transpired is impossible to say, but it is not improbable, even if the account was clearly designed by the writers to remind the church that there was a fate worse than death that awaited anyone who might recant under pressure.
What Polycarp was reported as saying was what most Chris- tians thought, and there is no sign of anything miraculous or even extraordi- nary. But unfortunately for them, Philip the Asiarch, whose re- sponsibility the execution was, had just abolished that form of punishment and so their preferred solution was impossible. When they realized that, the mob cried for him to be burnt at the stake, so fulfilling the prophecy which Polycarp had received in his dream.
An oddity about this is that the text says that the mob consisted of both Jews and pagans Would Jews have been party to something like that? Observant ones surely would not have been, if only because they would have been resting on the Sabbath day, but not all Jews were observant, and there may have been some who joined in with the pagans on this occasion, seeing their opportunity to be rid of a man who was just as dangerous to them as he was to anyone else. We know that there were Smyrnaean Jews in the first century who eagerly persecuted Christians, and it may be that this was still the case a century later.
That seems to have been the work of the pagans, with some Jews taking part, which is significant. The Jews were not exempt from all blame, but the text cannot be regarded as particularly anti-Semitic. Apparently there were some Jews who helped in this, but once again, they were not the instigators. Polycarp stripped naked in readiness for the fire, and the Mar- tyrdom tells us that he took the unusual step of removing his sandals, some- thing that he had never done before.
The reason given for this is that his people were always eager to touch him as a sign of their respect for his holi- ness, something which he had never encouraged. Finally, when everything was ready, his executioners prepared to nail him to the stake, but he asked them to desist.
More significant are the details recorded in chapter fourteen, where Poly- carp is compared not to Jesus but to the burnt offering of a ram in the Old Testament. This echoes the aborted sacrifice of Isaac by his father Abraham Gen and shows familiarity with other places in the Hebrew Bible. The idea that they may have been transferred to Christian martyrs after the destruction of the temple in a. May I be welcomed before you today among them, as a rich and acceptable sacrifice, just as you, the undeceiving and true God, prepared beforehand and revealed in advance and accomplished.
For this reason, and for all things, I praise you, I bless you, I glorify you through the eternal and heavenly high priest, Jesus Christ, your beloved Son, through whom be glory to you, with him and the Holy Spirit, both now and unto the coming ages. Polycarp was a bishop and a man of prayer, and so would no doubt have been used to praying in this way, but it seems highly unlikely that an onlooker would have been able to record such a lengthy and complex text as this one.
Virtually all scholars agree that it was composed for the purposes of the ac- count, but even so, it probably reflects what Polycarp would have said if he could. It glorifies the Father, who has revealed himself in Christ and who is the Creator of all things. This is an implicit rebuke to the claims of the pagans and a pointed reminder to Christians that the God they worship is in control of all things.
That in itself was reason for praise and thanksgiving, in spite of the apparent tragedy that was about to unfold. Polycarp did not claim to have earned the right to die for his faith but rather that he had been counted worthy by God. He was aware of his inad- equacy and prayed for strength and support as he faced the challenge before him.
He was called to imitate Christ but not to replace him; Jesus remained the great high priest who bought our salvation with his blood, and for whom there could be no substitute. The prayer strikes a balance here—as a mar- tyr, Polycarp is honored because he has been chosen by God, but he is not venerated because of his exceptional suffering.
The received text adds that it was like the smell of baking bread. Some critics have regarded this detail as a later interpolation because it is not found in Eusebius, but it makes no difference to the overall impression being conveyed and its absence was probably a simple omission. More significant is what is recounted in the sixteenth chapter, where we are told that Polycarp had to be finished off with a dagger or sword because his body did not burn, and that when he was slain a dove emerged from his insides, along with enough blood to quench the flames.
Eusebius omits mention of the dove, perhaps because it was obviously not historically accurate, but he included the comment that enough blood flowed out of Polycarp for the fire to be quenched, something that was just as unlike- ly. Again, it is easier to posit an accidental omission than to regard these de- tails as a later interpolation. What it sounds like is that the burning was botched by the executioners—a common enough phenomenon. The letter uses this to claim that it proved that Polycarp was a man chosen by God and a prophet whose words were fulfilled, which is no doubt the reputation that the Smyrnaeans wanted him to have.
Apparently Nicetas the father of Herod argued with the proconsul that Polycarp might be worshiped instead of Jesus, which from his point of view would have been worse, because at least the bones of Christ were not available for veneration. At the same time, the Martyrdom uses this incident to remind its readers that Christians do not worship martyrs, how- ever much they may honor them, because the glory of the martyrs resides in their loyalty and devotion to Christ, not in any achievement of their own.
There are possible links with the New Testament as well. See for example 1 Pet ; Chapter nineteen tells us that although he was the twelfth person to suffer martyrdom in Smyrna, he was the only one who was a household name among non-believers as well as in the church. This is the effective end of the story, because the last three chapters are really an appendix, explaining how it had come to be written up, when it had taken place, and how it had been transmitted.
The Significance of the Text for Today In conclusion, it is clear that the Martyrdom of Polycarp brings into focus one of the most important phenomena of the early church. Against all rea- son, Christians were being put to death for their faith, and both Jews and pagans seem to have had an interest in this. Christians were accused of failing to worship the genius of Caesar not of ignoring the pagan gods , though nobody seems to have noticed that Jews were guilty of this too!
It must have seemed to many pagans that Christians were using their religion as an excuse for disloyalty, a dilemma that could only be resolved if Caesar were to give up his pretensions to divinity. That eventually happened, but it was a victory for the church, which continued to demand that believers put it before the empire. It was much closer to Old Testament sacrifices, and it stood in a relationship to the sacrifice of Christ 28 The accusation made against the Christians is significantly different from the one recorded by Pliny the Younger in a.
Pliny claimed that because of widespread conversions to Christianity, pagan worship was being abandoned, but although he mentioned the imperial cult in passing, he did not make it the basis of his objection to Christianity. See Pliny the Younger, Epistulae What really mattered to the Smyrnaeans was that Polycarp had died as a church leader should.
To the end, he put his people before himself and set an example for them. He was an extraordinary man and the events surrounding his death were sufficiently unusual to make people reflect on that, but he was not and could not be a substitute for Christ himself. To the end, he was a servant following his Lord and master, and that is how the church at Smyrna wanted his death to be understood.
For many centuries, martyrdom was a somewhat obscure and misunder- stood phenomenon in the Christian church. With some exceptions, it died out after the legalization of Christianity in the fourth century and became a thing of the almost legendary past. Stories of the martyrs were amplified into hagiography, and their relics or supposed relics were collected and venerated as if they possessed special divine powers.
Excesses and distor- tions of this kind alienated the sixteenth-century Reformers, who sup- pressed the cults they encountered and sometimes tried to prove that the stories on which they were based were essentially false. Protestants were certainly put to death for their faith from time to time, but no attempt was made to venerate them after their deaths.
Not only Islamic fundamentalists, but Buddhists, Hindus and people of no religion are attacking Christians on almost every continent. At present there is no sign that this sit- uation will improve any time soon—on the contrary, the general feeling is that things are liable to get worse before they get better, if they ever do.
This unhappy situation is forcing Christians to reassess their roots as a community of martyrs. The early church was persecuted, but despite its sufferings, it thrived and eventually triumphed over its enemies. Giles but is largely ignored by the passers-by. COM term, and that the church will come out of its current distress stronger than ever, though that remains to be seen.
What is certain is that martyrdom, once the stuff of ancient history, has become a contemporary reality once again. To become a Christian today is to take a risk and to invite opposition from a hostile world that may well take judicial and penal forms. In this climate, the church cries out for leaders of the caliber of Polycarp, men and women who will be faithful unto death and inherit the crown of everlasting life.
His work galvanized Bohemia and contributed to the identity of the Czech nation and places him in the gallery of those who were precursors of the Reformation, such as Waldo and Wycliffe. Some comparisons are drawn between Hus and Luther, who were both passionate for the truth. They desired it, sought it, and wanted to unearth it wherever it was buried by centuries of human tradition.
It was the light that did not leave them even in the darkest night. No other con- sideration could obstruct them, even though their lives were at stake. Introduction O n July 6, , six centuries ago, Master Jan Hus, priest and former rector of the University of Prague, died at the stake.
His only fault was to talk too much or perhaps to be heard too much. His sermons in the Bethlehem Chapel in Prague silenced protests. COM pope levied throughout Europe. In the church, everything was bought or sold, and in Bohemia, the church owned about half the land, whereas the king owned only one sixth. Beside this widespread simony, Hus dared to point the finger at the hypocrisy of numerous prelates including the pope who were thirsty for power and pleasure.
At Constance, in order to host the council which convened from to , new brothels were opened and prostitutes procured for the members of the council. At Constance, however, he was condemned for heresy. A presentation of the context and a look at his work will help us to answer this question. Since the reign of Wenceslas I — , the country had been a place of immigration for Germans. They brought skills beneficial to the economy but threatened the cultural and social autonomy of the Czechs, since Bohemia belonged to the Holy Empire, which was becoming more Germanic.
From on, Bohemia had an energetic sovereign in the person of Charles IV, who transformed Prague into an influential intellectual center with the first university in the German speaking world. The importance of the city grew and, with 80, inhabitants at the end of the century, it was among the most populated in Europe. The nationalists wanted the Czech language to occupy a place of choice, and this played against the Roman Church, which was making its power felt throughout Europe.
In , England re- fused to pay taxes to the pope. John Wycliffe, then spokesperson of the parliament, provided the judicial foundations for this refusal. War followed with German armies on the side of Sigismund and Czech ones on the side of Wenceslas. In , the Germans laid siege to Prague, which fueled Czech nationalism. The same year, the great electors divested Wenceslas IV of his imperial title and gave it to Count Rupert of Palatine.
In a chaotic atmosphere of mixed social, national, and religious claims, when Hus, a Czech from a poor family in southern Bohemia, became the university rector in Prague, he was the symbol and pride of an entire people. Neither the empire nor the church could tolerate the independence of Bohemia.
They calculated that by striking the symbolic head and declaring Hus to be heretical, they could cool the fervor of the Bohemians who supported him. The Hussite movement in Bohemia became a political force and raised armies that on several occasions successfully resisted the coalition forces of the pope and the emperor.
Indeed, the Hussite wars lasted from to Since , the church existed with two rival popes. The exile of the bishop of Rome in Avignon in cast a significant shadow over Christen- dom, the scandalous behavior of the popes tarnished the image of the head of the church, and many questioned the legitimacy of papal wars to defend St.
Each bishop and secular ruler had to decide which pope to support in a way that had little to do with religious considerations. Historians have also observed that during this period—in an absurd way—every Christian was cursed by one pope or blessed by the other! COM century.
The solution advocated by the University of Paris to the schism was for the cardinals on both sides to assemble a general council and unseat both popes and elect a new one. This proposal was against tradition since it gave the council ultimate authority, with the power to undo popes at will. At the time of his trial, Hus put his finger on this issue in order to confound his accusers, even if this was not the issue at stake. A council met at Pisa in , without the two popes, and a new one was appointed.
This decision only worsened the crisis, since the two former popes challenged the validity of the council and remained in office, making three pontiffs who claimed legitimacy! The church was unable to resolve the crisis and Emperor Rupert died and Sigismund of Hungary, who was appointed in his stead, helped the Roman Church out of the dead-end.
The emperor obtained the removal of the three popes and the election of a new one, Martin V, putting an end to the schism that had lasted for too long. Reform according to Jan Hus a The Influence of John Wycliffe By his commitment, his sermons in Prague, and his entire trial Hus showed himself to be a man of faith, deeply attached to the Holy Scriptures and the defense of truth.
He was not, however, a pioneer in the spiritual or theolog- ical field. He followed paths opened by others before him. If he was a faithful Catholic, his quest for truth and authenticity led him to embrace the ideas of the Oxford professor John Wycliffe, who died in Holy Scripture is the true authority in matters of faith; 2. Access to the Bible must be as broad as possible, and lay people have as much a right to it as clerics and academics; 3.
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