Theodotus – Introductory Notice

Excerpts of Theodotus1 or Selections from the Prophetic Scriptures2

Introductory Notice to Excerpts of Theodutus; or, Selections from the Prophetic Scriptures.2

We may thank Mr. Wilson, the translator, for separating this collection, absolutely, from the works of Clement of Alexandria, to which it has been made an appendix. The reference to “our Pantænus” gives the only colour for such a collocation with so great a name. It is the work of a Montanist, perhaps, who may have had some relations with the Alexandrian school; but it is hard to say precisely who, of three or four named Theodotus (all heretics), may have made up he compilation, more especially because disjointed and contradictory fragments seem mixed up in it as it is commonly edited. Dupin (perhaps too readily copying Valesius) appears to think Clement may have been the compiler, but that, like the Hypotyposes, the work was the product of days when he was imperfectly educated in the Christian truth. It seems to me more reasonable to conclude that these excerpts, and what goes by the name of Fragments from the Hypotyposes, are alike corrupt or forged documents, for which Clement’s name has been borrowed, to give them some credit; and I can desire no better authority for this opinion that that of Jeremiah Jones, with the arguments to be found in his learned work on the Canon.3

The wretched performance, therefore, is valuable chiefly as illustrating certain heresies of the second century; but, incidentally, it is of considerable importance as confirming the orthodox writers in those books and doctrines to which it bears witness in coincidence with them.

I regret that the Edinburgh editors give us not a line of information as to their estimate of these extracts, or concerning authorship and like matters of interest and natural curiosity.





1 [I have prefixed this title, which Mr. Wilson has omitted, possibly because these extracts are themselves somewhat abridged.]

2 [For all the confusions about Theodotus and the divers persons so called, see Lardner, Credib., viii. 572-579. These are the extract, commonly called the Eclogues or Excerpts of Theodotus; but they do not contain certain passages, which may have been interpolations.]

3 Vol. i. pp. 371-376. These Selections are often quoted as “Eclogues.”