Julius Africanus (Cont.)The Extant Writings of Julius Africanus.

Julius Africanus (Cont.)

I. – The Epistle to Aristides.


[Africanus on the Genealogy in the Holy Gospels.1 – Some indeed incorrectly allege that this discrepant enumeration and mixing of the names both of priestly men, as they think, and royal, was made properly,2 in order that Christ might be shown rightfully to be both Priest and King; as if any one disbelieved this, or had any other hope than this, that Christ is the High Priest of His Father, who presents our prayers to Him, and a supramundane King, who rules by the Spirit those whom He has delivered, a cooperator in the government of all things. And this is announced to us not by the catalogue of the tribes, nor by the mixing of the registered generations, but by the patriarchs and prophets. Let us not therefore descend to such religious trifling as to establish the kingship and priesthood of Christ by the interchanges of the names. For the priestly tribe of Levi, too, was allied with the kingly tribe of Juda, through the circumstance that Aaron married Elizabeth the sister of Naasson, (Exo_6:23) and that Eleazar again married the daughter of Phatiel, (Exo_6:25) and begat children. The evangelists, therefore, would thus have spoken falsely, affirming what was not truth, but a fictitious commendation. And for this reason the one traced the pedigree of Jacob the father of Joseph from David through Solomon; the other traced that of Heli also, though in a different way, the father of Joseph, from Nathan the son of David. And they ought not indeed to have been ignorant that both orders of the ancestors enumerated are the generation of David, the royal tribe of Juda. ([Heb_7:14.]) For if Nathan was a prophet, so also was Solomon, and so too the father of both of them; and there were prophets belonging to many of the tribes, but priests belonging to none of the tribes, save the Levites only. To no purpose, then, is this fabrication of theirs. Nor shall an assertion of this kind prevail in the Church of Christ against the exact truth, so as that a lie should be contrived for the praise and glory of Christ. For who does not know that most holy word of the apostle also, who, when he was preaching and proclaiming the resurrection of our Saviour, and confidently affirming the truth, said with great fear, “If any say that Christ is not risen, and we assert and have believed this, and both hope for and preach that very thing, we are false witnesses of God, in alleging that He raised up Christ, whom He raised not up?” (1Co_15:12, etc.) And if he who glorifies God the Father is thus afraid lest he should seem a false witness in narrating a marvellous fact, how should not he be justly afraid, who tries to establish the truth by a false statement, preparing an untrue opinion? For if the generations are different, and trace down no genuine seed to Joseph, and if all has been stated only with the view of establishing the position of Him who was to be born – to confirm the truth, namely, that He who was to be would be king and priest, there being at the same tune no proof given, but the dignity of the words being brought down to a feeble hymn, – it is evident that no praise accrues to God from that, since it is a falsehood, but rather judgment returns on him who asserts it, because he vaunts an unreality as though it were reality. Therefore, that we may expose the ignorance also of him who speaks thus, and prevent any one from stumbling at this folly, I shall set forth the true history of these matters.]



For3 whereas in Israel the names of their generations were enumerated either according to nature or according to law, – according to nature, indeed, by the succession of legitimate offspring, and according to law whenever another raised up children to the name of a brother dying childless; for because no clear hope of resurrection was yet given them, they had a representation of the future promise in a kind of mortal resurrection, with the view of perpetuating the name of one deceased; – whereas, then, of those entered in this genealogy, some succeeded by legitimate descent as son to father, while others begotten in one family were introduced to another in name, mention is therefore made of both – of those who were progenitors in fact, and of those who were so only in name. Thus neither of the evangelists is in error, as the one reckons by nature and the other by law. For the several generations, viz., those descending from Solomon and those from Nathan, were so intermingled4 by the raising up of children to the childless,5 and by second marriages, and the raising up of seed, that the same persons are quite justly reckoned to belong at one time to the one, and at another to the other, i.e., to their reputed or to their actual fathers. And hence it is that both these accounts are true, and come down to Joseph, with considerable intricacy indeed, but yet quite accurately.



But in order that what I have said may be made evident, I shall explain the interchange6 of the generations. If we reckon the generations from David through Solomon, Matthan is found to be the third from the end, who begat Jacob the father of Joseph. But if, with Luke, we reckon them from Nathan the son of David, in like manner the third from the end is Melchi, whose son was Heli the father of Joseph. For Joseph was the son of Hell, the son of Melchi.7 As Joseph, therefore, is the object proposed to us, we have to show how it is that each is represented as his father, both Jacob as descending from Solomon, and Heli as descending from Nathan: first, how these two, Jacob and Heli, were brothers; and then also how the fathers of these, Matthan and Melchi, being of different families, are shown to be the grandfathers of Joseph. Well, then, Matthan and Melchi, having taken the same woman to wife in succession, begat children who were uterine brothers, as the law did not prevent a widow,8 whether such by divorce or by the death of her husband, from marrying another. By Estha, then – for such is her name according to tradition – Matthan first, the descendant of Solomon, begets Jacob; and on Matthan’s death, Melchi, who traces his descent back to Nathan, being of the same tribe but of another family, having married her, as has been already said, had a son Hell. Thus, then, we shall find Jacob and Hell uterine brothers, though of different families. And of these, the one Jacob having taken the wife of his brother Heli, who died childless, begat by her the third, Joseph – his son by nature and by account.9 Whence also it is written, “And Jacob begat Joseph.” But according to law he was the son of Heli, for Jacob his brother raised up seed to him. Wherefore also the genealogy deduced through him will not be made void, which the Evangelist Matthew in his enumeration gives thus: “And Jacob begat Joseph.” But Luke, on the other hand, says, “Who was the son, as was supposed10 (for this, too, he adds), of Joseph, the son of Heli, the son of Metchi.” For it was not possible more distinctly to state the generation according to law; and thus in this mode of generation he has entirely omitted the word “begat” to the very end, carrying back the genealogy by way of conclusion to Adam and to God.11



Nor indeed is this incapable of proof, neither is it a rash conjecture. For the kinsmen of the Saviour after the flesh, whether to magnify their own origin or simply to state the fact, but at all events speaking truth, have also handed down the following account: Some Idumean robbers attacking Ascalon, a city of Palestine, besides other spoils which they took from a temple of Apollo, which was built near the walls, carried off captive one Antipater, son of a certain Herod, a servant of the temple. And as the priest12 was not able to pay the ransom for his son, Antipater was brought up in the customs of the Idumeans, and afterwards enjoyed the friendship of Hyrcanus, the high priest of Judea. And being sent on an embassy to Pompey on behalf of Hyrcanus. and having restored to him the kingdom which was being wasted by Aristobulus his brother, he was so fortunate as to obtain the title of procurator of Palestine.13 And when Antipater was treacherously slain through envy of his great good fortune, his son Herod succeeded him, who was afterwards appointed king of Judea under Antony and Augustus by a decree of the senate. His sons were Herod and the other tetrarchs. These accounts are given also in the histories of the Greeks.14



But as up to that time the genealogies of the Hebrews had been registered in the public archives, and those, too, which were traced back to the proselytes15 – as, for example, to Achior the Ammanite, and Ruth the Moabitess, and those who left Egypt along with the Israelites, and intermarried with them – Herod, knowing that the lineage of the Israelites contributed nothing to him, and goaded by the consciousness of his ignoble birth, burned the registers of their families. This he did, thinking that he would appear to be of noble birth, if no one else could trace back his descent by the public register to the patriarchs or proselytes, and to that mixed race called georoe.16 A few, however, of the studious, having private records of their own, either by remembering the names or by getting at them in some other way from the archives, pride themselves in preserving the memory of their noble descent; and among these happen to be those already mentioned, called desposyni,17 on account of their connection with the family of the Saviour. And these coming from Nazara and Cochaba, Judean villages, to other parts of the country, set forth the above-named genealogy18 as accurately as possible from the Book of Days.19 Whether, then, the case stand thus or not, no one could discover a more obvious explanation, according to my own opinion and that of any sound judge. And let this suffice us for the matter, although it is not supported by testimony, because we have nothing more satisfactory or true to allege upon it. The Gospel, however, in any case states the truth.



Matthan, descended from Solomon, begat Jacob. Matthan dying, Melchi, descended from Nathan, begat Heli by the same wife. Therefore Heli and Jacob are uterine brothers. Heli dying childless, Jacob raised up seed to him and begat Joseph, his own son by nature, but the son of Heli by law. Thus Joseph was the son of both. ([Elucidation I.])


II. – Narrative of Events Happening in Persia on the Birth of Christ.20

The best introduction to this production will be the following preface, as given in Migne: – Many men of learning thus far have been of opinion that the narrative by Africanus of events happening in Persia on Christ’s birth,21 is a fragment of that famous work which Sextus Julius Africanus, a Christian author of the third century after Christ, composed on the history of the world in the chronological order of events up to the reign of Macrinus, and presented in five books to Alexander, son of Mammaea, with the view of obtaining the restoration of his native town Emmaus. With the same expectation which I see incited Lambecius and his compendiator Nesselius, I, too, set myself with the greatest eagerness to go over the codices of our Electoral Library …. But, as the common proverb goes, I found coals instead of treasure. This narrative, so far from its being to be ascribed to a writer well reputed by the common voice of antiquity, does not contain anything worthy of the genius of the chronographer Africanus. Wherefore, since by the unanimous testimony of the ancients he was a man of consummate learning and sharpest judgment, while the author of the Cesti, which also puts forward the name of Africanus, has been long marked by critics with the character either of anile credulity, or of a marvellous propensity to superstitious fancies, I can readily fall in with the opinion of those who think that he is a different person from the chronographer, and would ascribe this wretched production also to him. But, dear reader, on perusing these pages, if your indignation is not stirred against the man’s rashness, you will at least join with me in laughing at his prodigious follies, and will learn, at the same time, that the testimonies of men most distinguished for learning are not to be rated so highly as to supersede personal examination when opportunity permits.


Events in Persia:

on the Incarnation of Our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Christ first of all became known from Persia. For nothing escapes the learned jurists of that country, who investigate all things with the utmost care. The facts,22 therefore, which are inscribed upon the golden plates,23 and laid up in the royal temples, I shall record; for it is from the temples there, and the priests connected with them, that the name of Christ has been heard of. Now there is a temple there to Juno, surpassing even the royal palace, which temple Cyrus, that prince instructed in all piety, built, and in which he dedicated in honour of the gods golden and silver statues, and adorned them with precious stones, – that I may not waste words in a profuse description of that ornamentation. Now about that time (as the records on the plates testify), the king having entered the temple, with the view of getting an interpretation of certain dreams, was addressed by the priest Prupupius thus: I congratulate thee, master: Juno has conceived. And the king, smiling, said to him, Has she who is dead conceived? And he said, Yes, she who was dead has come to life again, and besets life. And the king said, What is this? explain it to me. And he replied, In truth, master, the time for these things is at hand. For during the whole night the images, both of gods and goddesses, continued heating the-ground, saying to each other, Come, let us congratulate Juno. And they say to me, Prophet, come forward; congratulate Juno, for she has been embraced. And I said, How can she be embraced who no longer exists? To which they reply, She has come to life again, and is no longer called Juno,24 but Urania. For the mighty Sol has embraced her. Then the goddesses say to the gods, making the matter plainer, Pege25 is she who is embraced; for did not Juno espouse an artificer? And the gods say, That she is rightly called Pege, we admit. Her name, moreover, is Myria; for she bears in her womb, as in the deep, a vessel of a myriad talents’ burden. And as to this title Pege, let it be understood thus: This stream of water sends forth the perennial stream of spirit, – a stream containing but a single fish,26 taken with the hook of Divinity, and sustaining the whole world with its flesh as though it were in the sea. You have well said, She has an artificer [in espousal]; but by that espousal she does not bear an artificer on an equality with herself. For this artificer who is born, the son of the chief artificer, framed by his excellent skill the roof of the third heavens, and established by his word this lower world, with its threefold sphere27 of habitation.

Thus, then, the statues disputed with each other concerning Juno and Pege, and [at length] with one voice they said: When the day is finished. we all, gods and goddesses, shall know the matter clearly. Now, therefore, master, tarry for the rest of the day. For the matter shall certainly come to pass. For that which emerges is no common affair.

And when the king abode there and watched the statues, the harpers of their own accord began to strike their harps, and the misses to sing; and whatsoever creatures were within, whether quadruped or fowl, in silver and gold, uttered their several voices. And as the king shuddered, and was filled with great fear, he was about to retire. For he could not endure the spontaneous tumult. The priest therefore said to him, Remain, O king, for the full revelation is at hand which the God of gods has chosen to declare to us.

And when these things were said, the roof was opened, and a bright star descended and stood above the pillar of Pege, and a voice was heard to this effect: Sovereign Pege, the mighty Son has sent me to make the announcement to you, and at the same time to do you service in parturition, designing blameless nuptials with you, O mother of the chief of all ranks of being, bride of the triune Deity. And the child begotten by extraordinary generation is called the Beginning and the End, – the beginning of salvation, and the end of perdition.

And when this word was spoken, all the statues fell upon their faces, that of Pege alone standing, on which also a royal diadem was found placed, having on its upper side a star set in a carbuncle and an emerald. And on its lower side the star rested.

And the king forthwith gave orders to bring in all the interpreters of prodigies, and the sages who were under his dominion. And when all the heralds sped with their proclamations, all these assembled in the temple. And when they saw the star above Pege, and the diadem with the star and the stone, and the statues lying on the floor, they said: O king, a root (offspring) divine and princely has risen, bearing the image of the King of heaven and earth. For Pege-Myria is the daughter of the Bethlehemite Pege. And the diadem is the mark of a king, and the star is a celestial announcement of portents to fall on the earth. Out of Judah has arisen a kingdom which shall subvert all the memorials of the Jews. And the prostration of the gods upon the floor prefigured the end of their honour. For he who comes, being of more ancient dignity, shall displace all the recent. Now therefore, O king, send to Jerusalem. For you will find the Christ of the Omnipotent God borne in bodily form in the bodily arms of a woman. And the star remained above the statue of Pege, called the Celestial, until the wise men came forth, and then it went with them.

And then, in the depth of evening, Dionysus appeared in the temple, unaccompanied by the Satyrs, and said to the images: Pege is not one of us, but stands far above us, in that she gives birth to a man whose conception is in divine fashion.28 O priest Prupupius! what dost thou tarrying here? An action, indicated in writings of old,29 has come upon us, and we shall be convicted as false by a person of power and energy.30 Wherein we have been deceivers, we have been deceivers; and wherein we have ruled, we have ruled. No longer give we oracular responses. Gone from us is our honour. Without glory and reward are we become. There is One, and One only, who receives again at the hands of all His proper honour. For the rest, be not disturbed.31 No longer shall the Persians exact tribute of earth and sky. For He who established these things is at hand, to bring practical tribute32 to Him who sent Him, to renew the ancient image, and to put image with image, and bring the dissimilar to similarity. Heaven rejoices with earth, and earth itself exults at receiving matter of exultation from heaven. Things which have not happened above, have happened on earth beneath. He whom the order of the blessed has not seen, is seen by the order of the miserable. Flame threatens those; dew attends these. To Myria is given the blessed lot of bearing Pege in Bethlehem, and of conceiving grace of grace. Judaea has seen its bloom, and this country is fading. To Gentiles and aliens, salvation is come; to the wretched, relief is ministered abundantly. With right do women dance, and say, Lady Pege, Spring-bearer, thou mother of the heavenly constellation. Thou cloud that bringest us dew after heat, remember thy de pendants, O mistress.

The king then, without delay, sent some of the Magi under his dominion with gifts, the star showing them the way. And when they returned, they narrated to the men of that time those same things which were also written on the plates of gold, and which were to the following effect: – 

When we came to Jerusalem, the sign, together with our arrival, roused all the people. How is this, say they, that wise men of the Persians are here, and that along with them there is this strange stellar phenomenon? And the chief of the Jews interrogated us in this way: What is this that attends you,33 and with what purpose are you here? And we said: He whom ye call Messias is born. And they were confounded, and dared not withstand us. But they said to us, By the justice of Heaven, tell us what ye know of this matter. And we made answer to them: Ye labour under unbelief; and neither without an oath nor with an oath do ye believe us, but ye follow your own heedless counsel. For the Christ, the Son of the Most High, is born, and He is the subverter of your law and synagogues. And therefore is it that, struck with this most excellent response as with a dart,34 ye hear in bitterness this name which has come upon you suddenly. And they then, taking counsel together, urged us to accept their gifts, and tell to none that such an event had taken place in that land of theirs, lest, as they say, a revolt rise against us. But we replied: We have brought gifts in His honour, with the view of proclaiming those mighty things which we know to have happened in our country on occasion of His birth; and do ye bid us take your bribes, and conceal the things which have been communicated to us by the Divinity who is above the heavens, and neglect the commandments of our proper King? And after urging many considerations on us, they gave the matter up. And when the king of Judaea sent for us and had some converse with us, and put to us certain questions as to the statements we made to him, we acted in the same manner, until he was thoroughly enraged at our replies. We left him accordingly, without giving any greater heed to him than to any common person.

And we came to that place then to which we were sent, and saw the mother and the child, the star indicating to us the royal babe. And we said to the mother: What art thou named, O renowned mother? And she says: Mary, masters. And we said to her: Whence art thou sprung?35 And she replies: From this district of the Bethlehemites.36 Then said we: Hast thou not had a husband? And she answers: I was only betrothed with a view to the marriage covenant, my thoughts being far removed from this. For I had no mind to come to this. And while I was giving very little concern to it, when a certain Sabbath dawned, and straightway at the rising of the sun, an angel appeared to me bringing me suddenly the glad tidings of a son. And in trouble I cried out, Be it not so to me, Lord, for I have not a husband. And he persuaded me to believe, that by the will of God I should have this son.

Then said we to her: Mother, mother, all the gods of the Persians have called thee blessed. Thy glory is great; for thou art exalted above all women of renown, and thou art shown to be more queenly than all queens.

The child, moreover, was seated on the ground, being, as she said, in His second year, and having in part the likeness of His mother. And she had long hands,37 and a body somewhat delicate; and her colour was like that of ripe wheat;38 and she was of a round face, and had her hair bound up. And as we had along with us a servant skilled in painting from the life, we brought with us to our country a likeness of them both; and it was placed by our hand in the sacred39 temple, with this inscription on it: To Jove the Sun, the mighty God, the King of Jesus, the power of Persia dedicated this.

And taking the child up, each of us in turn, and bearing Him in our arms, we saluted Him and worshipped Him, and presented to Him gold, and myrrh, and frankincense, addressing Him thus: We gift Thee with Thine own, O Jesus, Ruler of heaven. Ill would things unordered be ordered, wert Thou not at hand. In no other way could things heavenly be brought into conjunction with things earthly, but by Thy descent. Such service cannot be discharged, if only the servant is sent us, as when the Master Himself is present; neither can so much be achieved when the king sends only his satraps to war, as when the king is there himself. It became the wisdom of Thy system, that Thou shouldst deal in this manner with men.40

And the child leaped and laughed at our caresses and words. And when we had bidden the mother farewell,41 and when she had shown us honour, and we had testified to her the reverence which became us, we came again to the place in which we lodged. And at eventide there appeared to us one of a terrible and fearful countenance, saying: Get ye out quickly, lest ye be taken in a snare. And we in terror said: And who is he, O divine leader, that plotteth against so august an embassage? And he replied: Herod; but get you up straightway and depart in safety and peace.

And we made speed to depart thence in all earnestness; and we reported in Jerusalem all that we had seen. Behold, then, the great things that we have told you regarding Christ; and we saw Christ our Saviour, who was made known as both God and man. To Him be the glory and the power unto the ages of the ages. Amen.


III. – The Extant Fragments of the Five Books of the Chronography of Julius Africanus.

I.42 On the Mythical Chronology of the Egyptians and Chaldeans.

The Egyptians, indeed, with their boastful notions of their own antiquity, have put forth a sort of account of it by the hand of their astrologers in cycles and myriads of years; which some of those who have had the repute of studying such subjects profoundly have in a summary way called lunar years; and inclining no less than others to the mythical, they think they fall in with the eight or nine thousands of years which the Egyptian priests in Plato falsely reckon up to Solon.43 

(And after some other matter:)

For why should I speak of the three myriad years of the Phoenicians, or of the follies of the Chaldeans, their forty-eight myriads? For the Jews, deriving their origin from them as descendants of Abraham, having been taught a modest mind, and one such as becomes men, together with the truth by the spirit of Moses, have handed down to us, by their extant Hebrew histories, the number of 5500 years as the period up to the advent of the Word of salvation, that was announced to the world in the time of the sway of the Caesars.



When men multiplied on the earth, the angels of heaven came together with the daughters of men. In some copies I found “the sons of God.” What is meant by the Spirit, in my opinion, is that the descendants of Seth are called the sons of God on account of the righteous men and patriarchs who have sprung from him, even down to the Saviour Himself; but that the descendants of Cain are named the seed of men as having nothing divine in them, on account of the wickedness of their race and the inequality of their nature, being a mixed people, and having stirred the indignation of God.45 But if it is thought that these refer to angels, we must take them to be those who deal with magic and jugglery, who taught the women the motions of the stars and the knowledge of things celestial, by whose power they conceived the giants as their children, by whom wickedness came to its height on the earth, until God decreed that the whole race of the living should perish in their impiety by the deluge.



Adam, when 530 years old, begets Seth; and after living other 700 years he died, that is, a second death.

Seth, when 505 years old, begot Enos; from Adam therefore to the birth of Enos there are 435 years in all.

Enos, when 190 years old, begets Cainan.

Cainan again, when 170 years old, begets Malaleel;

And Malaleel, when 165 years old; begets, Jared;

And Jared, when 162 years old, begets Enoch; And Enoch, when 165 years old, begets Mathusala; and having pleased God, after a life of other 200 years, he was not found.

Mathusala, when 187 years old, begot Lamech.

Lamech, when 188 years old, begets Noe.


IV.47 On the Deluge.

God decreed to destroy the whole race of the living by a flood, having threatened that men should not survive beyond 120 years. Nor let it be deemed a matter of difficulty, because some lived afterwards a longer period than that. For the space of time meant was 100 years up to the flood in the case of the sinners of that time; for they were 20 years old. God instructed Noe, who pleased him on account of his righteousness, to prepare an ark; and when it was finished, there entered it Noe himself and his sons, his wife and his daughters-in-law, and firstlings of every living creature, with a view to the duration of the race. And Noe was 600 years old when the flood came on. And when the water abated, the ark settled on the mountains of Ararat, which we know to be in Parthia;48 but some say that they are at Celaenae49 of Phrygia, and I have seen both places. And the flood prevailed for a year, and then the earth became dry. And they came out of the ark in pairs, as may be found, and not in the manner in which they had entered, viz., distinguished according to their species, and were blessed by God. And each of these things indicates something useful to us.



Noe was 600 years old when the flood came on. From Adam, therefore, to Noe and the flood, are 2262 years.



And after the flood, Sem begot Arphaxad.

Arphaxad, when 135 years old, begets Sala in the year 2397.

Sala, when 130 years old, begets Heber in the year 2527.

Heber, when 134 years old, begets Phalec in the year 2661, so called because the earth was divided in his days.

Phalec, when 130 years old, begot Ragan, and after living other 209 years died.



In the year of the world 3277, Abraham entered the promised land of Canaan.


VIII.53 Of Abraham.

From this rises the appellation of the Hebrews. For the word Hebrews is interpreted to mean those who migrate across, viz., who crossed the Euphrates with Abraham; and it is not derived, as some think, from the fore-mentioned Heber. From the flood and Noe, therefore, to Abraham’s entrance into the promised land, there are in all 1015 years; and from Adam, in 20 generations 3277 years.


IX.54 Of Abraham and Lot.

When a famine pressed the land of Canaan Abraham came down to Egypt; and fearing lest he should be put out of the way on account of the beauty of his wife, he pretended that he was her brother. But Pharaoh took her to himself when she was commended to him; for this is the name the Egyptians give their kings. And he was punished by God; and Abraham, along with all pertaining to him, was dismissed enriched. In Canaan, Abraham’s shepherds and Lot’s contended with each other; and with mutual consent they separated, Lot choosing to dwell in Sodom on account of the fertility and beauty of the land, which had five cities, Sodom, Gomorrah, Adama, Seboim, Segor, and as many kings. On these their neighbours the four Syrian kings made war, whose leader was Chodollogomo king of Aelam. And they met by the Salt Sea, which is now called the Dead Sea. In it I have seen very many wonderful things. For that water sustains no living thing, and dead bodies are carried beneath its depths, while the living do not readily even dip under it. Lighted torches are borne upon it, but when extinguished they sink. And there are the springs of bitumen; and it yields alum and salt a little different from the common kinds, for they are pungent and transparent. And wherever fruit is found about it, it is found full of a thick, foul smoke. And the water acts as a cure to those who use it, and it is drained in a manner contrary to any other water.55 And if it had not the river Jordan feeding it like a shell,56 and to a great extent withstanding its tendency, it would have failed more rapidly than appears. There is also by it a great quantity of the balsam plant; but it is supposed to have been destroyed by God on account of the impiety of the neighbouring people.


X.57 Of the Patriarch Jacob.

1. The shepherd’s tent belonging to Jacob, which was preserved at Edessa to the time of Antonine Emperor of the Romans, was destroyed by a thunderbolt.58


2. Jacob, being displeased at what had been done by Symeon and Levi at Shecem against the people of the country, on account of the violation of their sister, buried at Shecem the gods which he had with him near a rock under the wonderful terebinth,59 which up to this day is reverenced by the neighbouring people in honour of the patriarchs, and removed thence to Bethel. By the trunk of this terebinth there was an altar on which the inhabitants of the country offered ectenoe60 in their general assemblies; and though it seemed to be burned, it was not consumed. Near it is the tomb of Abraham and Isaac. And some say that the staff of one of the angels who were entertained by Abraham was planted there.



From Adam, therefore, to the death of Joseph, according to this book, are 23 generations, and 3563 years.



From this record,63 therefore, we affirm that Ogygus,64 from whom the first flood (in Attica) derived its name,65 and who was saved when many perished, lived at the time of the exodus of the people from Egypt along with Moses.66 (After a break): And after Ogygus, on account of the vast destruction caused by the flood, the present land of Attica remained without a king tilt the time of Cecrops, 189 years.67 Philochorus, however, affirms that Ogygus, Actaeus, or whatever other fictitious name is adduced, never existed. (After another break): From Ogygus to Cyrus, as from Moses to his time, are 1235 years.





1 This letter, as given by Eusebius, is acephalous. A large portion of it is supplied by Cardinal Angelo Mai in the Bibliotheca nova Patrum, vol. iv. pp. 231 and 272. We enclose in brackets the parts wanting in Gallandi, who copied Eusebius (Hist. Eccl., i. 7). On this celebrated letter of Africanus to Aristides, consult especially Eusebius (Hist. Eccl., i. 7); also Jerome, comm. on Matt. i. 16; Augustine, Retract., ii. 7; Photius, cod. xxxiv. p. 22; and in addition to these, Zacharias Chrysopol. in Bibl. P. P. Lugd., vol. xix. p. 751.

2 δικαίως.

3 Here what is given in Eusebius begins.

4 Ρεαδινγ συνεπεπλάκη. Migne would make it equivalent to “superimplexum est.” Rufinus renders it, “Reconjunctum namque est sibi invicem genus, et illus per Salomonem et illud quod per Nathan deducitur,” etc.

5 ἀναστάσεσιν ἀτέκνων. Rufinus and Damascenus omit these words in their versions of the passage.

6 The reading of the Codex Regius is ἀκολουθίαν, i.e., succession; the other leading MSS. give ἐπαλλαγήν, i.e., interchange or confusion.

7 But in our text in Luk_3:23, Luk_3:24, and so, too, in the Vulgate, Matthat and Levi are inserted between Heli and Melchi. It may be that these two names were not found in the copy used by Africanus.

8 Here Africanus applies the term “widow” (χηρεύουσαν) to one divorced as well as to one bereaved.

9 κατὰ λόγον.

10 Two things may be remarked here: first, that Africanus refers the phrase “as was supposed” not only to the words “son of Joseph,” but also to those that follow, “the son of Heli;” so that Christ would be the son of Joseph by legal adoption, just in the same way as Joseph was the son of Heli, which would lead to the absurd and impious conclusion that Christ was the son of Mary and a brother of Joseph married by her after the death of the latter. And second, that in the genealogy here assigned to Luke, Melchi holds the third place; whence it would seem either that Africanus’s memory had failed him, or that as Bede conjectures in his copy of the Gospel Melchi stood in place of Matthat (Migne). [A probable solution.]

11 Other MSS. read, “Adam the son of God.”

12 The word “priest” is used here perhaps improperly for “servant of the temple,” i.e., ἱερεύς for ἱερόδουλος.

13 So Josephus styles him “procurator of Judea, and viceroy” (ἐπιμελητὴς τῆς Ἰουδαίας, ανδ ἐπίτροπος).

14 This whole story about Antipater is fictitious. Antipater’s father was not Herod, a servant in the temple of Apollo, but Antipater an Idumean, as we learn from Josephus (xiv. 1). This Antipater was made prefect of Idumea by Alexander king of the Jews, and laid the foundation of the power to which his descendants rose. He acquired great wealth, and was on terms of friendship with Ascalon, Gaza, and the Arabians.

15 Several MSS. read ἀρχιπροσηλύτων for ἄχρι προσηλύτων, whence some conjecture that the correct reading should be ἄχρι τῶν ἀρχιπροσηλύτων, i.e., back to the “chief proselytes,” – these being, as it were, patriarchs among the proselytes, like Achior, and those who joined the Israelites on their flight from Egypt.

16 This word occurs in the Septuagint version of Exo_12:19, and refers to the strangers who left Egypt along with the Israelites. For Israel was accompanied by a mixed body, consisting on the one hand of native Egyptians, who are names αὐτόχθονες in that passage of Exodus, and by the resident aliens, who are called γειῶραι. Justin Martyr has the form γηόραν in Dialogue with Trypho, ch. cxxii. The root of the term is evidently the Hebrew גר, “stranger.”

17 The word δεσπόσυνοι was employed to indicate the Lord’s relatives, as being His according to the flesh. The term means literally, “those who belong to a master,” and thence it was used also to signify “one’s heirs.”

18 προειρημένην. Nicephorus reads προκειμένην.

19 ἐκ τε τῆς βίβλου τῶν ἡμερῶν. By this “Book of Days” Africanus understands those “day-books” which he has named, a little before this, ἰδιωτικὰς ἀπογραφάς. For among the Jews, most persons setting a high value on their lineage were in the habit of keeping by them private records of their descent copied from the public archives, as we see it done also by nobles among ourselves. Besides, by the insertion of the particle τε, which is found in all our codices, and also in Nicephorus, it appears that something is wanting in this passage. Wherefore it seems necessary to supply these words, και ἀπὸ μνήμης ἐς οσον ἐξικνοῦντο, “and from memory,” etc. Thus at least Rufinus seems to have read the passage, for he renders it: Ordinem supradictae generationis partim memoriter, partim etiam ex dierum libris, in quantum erat possibile, perdocebant (Migne).

20 Edited from two Munich codices by J. Chr. von. Aretin, in his Beiträge zur Geschichte und Literatur, anno 1804, p. ii. p. 49. [I place this apocryphal fragment here as a mere appendix to the Genealogical Argument. An absurd appendix, indeed.]

21 Which is extant in two MSS. in the Electoral Library of Munich, and in one belonging to the Imperial Library of Vienna.

22 The MSS. read γάρ, for.

23 The term in the original (ἀλκλαρίαις) is one altogether foreign to Greek, and seems to be of Arabic origin. The sense, however, is evident from the use of synonymous terms in the context.

24 There is a play upon the words, perhaps, in the original. The Greek term for Juno (Ηρα) may be derived from ερα, terra, so that the antithesis intended is, “She is no longer called Earthly, but Heavenly.”

25 i.e., Fountain, Spring, or Stream.

26 The initial letters of the Greek Ἰησοῦς Χριστὸς Θεοῦ Υἱὸς Σωτήρ, i.e., “Jesus Christ the Son of God the Saviour,” when joined together, make the word ἱχθύς, i.e., fish; and the fathers used the word, therefore, as a mystic symbol of Christ, who could live in the depth of our mortality as in the abyss of the sea. [Vol. 2. p. 297.]

27 i.e., as sea, land, and sky.

28 θείας τύχης σύλλημμα.

29 ἔγγραφος.

30 ἐμπράκτου.

31 The text gives θροβαδεῖ, for which Migne proposes θορύβηθι.

32 πρακτικοὺς φόρους.

33 τί τὸ ἑπόμενον, perhaps meant for, What business brings you?

34 ὑπὲρ μαντείας ἀριστης ωσπερ κατατοξευόμενοι.

35 ὁρμωμένη.

36 Βηθλεωτῶν.

37 μακρὰς τὰς χεῖρας according to Migne, instead of the reading of the manuscript, μακρὶν τὴν κῆραν ἔχουσα.

38 σιτόχροος.

39 διοπετεῖ.

40 The manuscripts give ἀντάρτας, for which Migne proposes ἀνθρώπους or αντεργάτας. [Unworthy, wholly so, of our author. This curious specimen of the romances of antiquity might better have found its place with other Protevangelia in vol. 8., this series.]

41 συνταξάμενοι.

42 In Georgius Syncellus, Chron., p. 17, ed. Paris, 14 Venet.

43 The text is: … συμπίπτουσι ταῖς ὀκτὼ καὶ ἐννέα χιλιάσιν ἐτῶν, ἃς Αιγυπτιων οι παρὰ Πλατωνι ἱερεῖς εις Σόλωνα καταριθμοῦντες οὐκ άληθεύουσι.

44 In Georgius Syncellus, Chron., p. 19, al. 15.

45 The text here is manifestly corrupt: ἐπιμιχθέντων αὐτῶν, τὴν ἀγανάκτησιν ποιήσασθαι τὸν Θεόν.

46 In Georgius Syncellus, Chron., p. 81, al. 65.

47 In Georgius Syncellus, Chron., p. 21, al. 17.

48 That is, in Armenia.

49 For there was a hill Ararat in Phrygia, from which the Marsyas issued, and the ark was declared to have rested there by the Sibylline oracles. [But see vol. 5. p. 149.]

50 In Georgius Syncellus, Chron., p. 83, al. 67.

51 In Georgius Syncellus, Chron., p. 86, al. 68.

52 In Georgius Syncellus, Chron., p. 93, al. 74. [Compare vol. 5. p. 148.]

53 In Georgius Syncellus, Chron., p. 99, al. 79. [עָבַר is the verb.]

54 In Georgius Syncellus, Chron., p. 100, al. 80.

55 λήγει τε παντὶ υδατι πάσχων τὰἐνάντια.

56 ὡς πορφύραν.

57 In Georgius Syncellus, Chron., p. 107, al. 86.

58 Heliogabalus is probably intended, in whose time Africanus flourished. At least so thinks Syncellus.

59 On this terebinth, see Scaliger (ad Graeca Euseb., p. 414); Franciscus Quaresimus, in Elucid. terrae sanctae: Eugenius Rogerius, etc.; and also Valesius, ad Euseb. De Vit. Constant., iii. 53, notes 3 and 5

60 Scaliger acknowledges himself ignorant of this word ἐκτενας. In the Eastern Church it is used to denote protracted prayers (preces protensiores) offered by the deacon on behalf of all classes of men, and the various necessities of human life. See Suicer, sub voce. Allatius thinks the text corrupt, and would read, ἐφ ̓ ον τά τε ὁλοκαυτώματα καὶ τὰς ἐκατόμβας ἀνεφερον = on which they offered both holocausts and hecatombs. [Littledale, Eastern Offices, p. 253.]

61 In Georgius Syncellus, Chron., p. 106, al. 85.

62 In Georgius Syncellus, Chron., p. 148, al. 118, from the Third Book of the Chron. of Africanus.

63 συντάγματος.

64 Others write Ogyges. Josephus (in Apionem), Euseb. (de Praepar.) Tatian [vol. 2. p. 81], Clemens [not so, vol. 2. p. 324), and others write Ogygus.

65 The text is, ὃς τοῦ πρωτοῦ κατακλυσμοῦ γεγονεν ἑπώνυμος. The word ἑπώνυμος is susceptible of two meanings, either “taking the name from” or “giving the name to.” Ὠγυγια κακα was a proverbial expression for primeval ills.

66 The text is here, κατὰ τὴν Αἴγυπτον τοῦ λαοῦ μετὰ Μωυσέως ἔξοδον γενέσθαι, for which we may read κατὰ τὴν ἑξ Αίγυπτου, etc.

67 Ὡγυγον Ἀκταῖον ἢ τὰ πλασσόμενα τῶν ὀνομάτων. Compare xiii. 6, where we have τὸν γὰρ μετὰ Ὡγυγον Ἀκταῖον, etc.