Monday, January 11, 2010

A touch of old church history

While working out at the Alaska Club, doing some badly needed cardio, I have found the time passes quicker if I read a book at the same time. Recently I have been going through the Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius. Like the works of Flavius Josephus, Eusebius of Caesarea was an early historian who sheds light on details of the early Christian experience not directly covered in the Scriptures. Worth noting, these extra-Biblical sources, while providing some interesting insights, are not meant to be used for a doctrinal source (cf. II Tim 3:16-17)

Here is a sample chapter from the Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius, giving us a glimpse at the background behind how we got the Gospel of Mark:

Book 1 Chapter XV

The Gospel according to Mark.

The divine word having thus been established among the Romans, the power of Simon was soon extinguished, and destroyed together with the man. So greatly, however, did the spelendour of piety enlighten the minds of Peter’s hearers, that it was not sufficient to hear but once, nor to receive the unwritten doctrine of the gospel of God, but they persevered in every variety of entreaties, to solicit Mark as the companion of Peter, and whose gospel we have, that he should leave them a monument of the doctrine thus orally communicated, in writing. Nor did they cease their solicitations until they had prevailed with the man, and thus becoming the means of that history which is called the Gospel according to Mark. They say also, that the apostle (Peter,) having ascertained what was done by the revelation of the spirit, was delighted with the zealous ardour expressed by these men, and that the history obtained his authority for the purpose of being read in the churches. This account is given by Clement, in the sixth book of his Institutions, whose testimony is corroborated also by that of Papias, bishop of Hierapolis. But Peter makes mention of Mark in the first epistle, which he is also said to have composed at the same city of Rome, and that he shows this fact, by calling the city by an unusual trope, Babylon; thus, “The church at Babylon, elected together with you, saluteth you, as also my son Marcus.” 1 Pet. v. 13.

I'm going between this book and C.S Lewis' classic, Mere Christianity. Fellow believers in Jesus, I would encourage you to dive into the Word of God, and get some classics under your belt, too.