Sunday, 29 May 2011

Church Father Hippolytus: A Liar, Mistaken or Correct?

We have already evidenced some of the dishonest shenanigans of Christian Bible scribes (and translators), and a tacit admission from a Christian apologist that the author of the Gospel of John was a liar but what about the church fathers?

Hippolytus of Rome (170 – 235) was the most important 3rd-century theologian in the Christian Church in Rome,[2] where he was probably born.[3] Photios I of Constantinople describes him in his Bibliotheca (cod. 121) as a disciple of Irenaeus, who was said to be a disciple of Polycarp, and from the context of this passage it is supposed that he suggested that Hippolytus himself so styled himself [1]

Geza Vermes sheds some light on Hippolytus’ (inaccurate?) portrayal of the Essenes

The stand taken by the Essenes on resurrection is more difficult to establish. Josephus, who claims to have experienced the life of this sect and studies their philosophy (Life 10), reports that the kind of afterlife they envisaged was different from resurrection. His final word on the subject in Jewish Antiquities (end of the first century AD) was that the Essenes believed in spiritual survival, the immortality of the soul (Ant 18:18). In the earlier account of the Jewish War, Josephus, like Philo and Hellenistic Judaism, paints a detailed canvas that after death incorruptible souls receive eternal reward or punishment.

For it is a fixed belief of theirs that the body is corruptible and its constituent matter impermanent, but that the soul is immortal and imperishable. Emanating from the finest ether, these souls become entangled, as it were, in the prison-house of the body, to which they are dragged down by a sort of natural spell; but when once they are released from the bonds of the flesh, then, as though liberated from a long servitude, they rejoice and are borne aloft. Sharing the beliefs of the sons of Greece, they maintain that for the various soils there is reserved an abode beyond the ocean, a place which is not oppressed by rain or snow or heat, but is refreshed by the ever gentle breath of the west wind coming in from the ocean; while they relegate base souls to a murky and tempestuous dungeon, big with never-ending punishment…Their aim was first to establish the doctrine of the immortality of the soul, and secondly to promote virtue and to deter from vice; for the good are made better in their lifetime by the hope of a reward after death, and the passions of the wicked are restrained by the fear that, even though they escape detection while alive, they will undergo never-ending punishment after their decease (War 2:154-157).

If this was a true picture of the Essene representation of afterlife, a message centred on a risen Messiah (like a Jesus preached by Christians) would not have had much hope of success among them. However, for whatever it’s worth, the Church father Hippolytus has left us a second version, purported to be Josephus’ account, in which a very different picture is sketched:

The doctrine of the resurrection also is firmly held among them. For they confess that the flesh also will rise and be immortal as the soul is already immortal, which they now say, when separated from the body, enters a place of flagrant air and light, to rest until judgment…(Refutation of All Heresies 9:27)

Is the difference due to the pen of Hippolytus, wishing to portray the Essenes as proto-Christians, or was Josephus guilty of twisting the evidence in order to make the Essene teaching palatable to his Greek readers? While the first view is more commonly held, there are defenders of the second, too. [2]


The Essene’ lack of belief in a dying and rising Messiah further militates against Trinitarian Christianity. One can certainly imagine why Hippolytus would resort to fudging matters – if that was the case.

In the interest of fairness, we cannot be sure who – if any one – is guilty of dishonesty though the finger of suspicion is more widely held against the Church father, Hippolytus, rather than Josephus. Who is right and who is wrong?

[1] Hippolytus of Rome on Wikipedia

[2] The Resurrection, Geza Vermes, Penguin Books, 2008, pg. 48-50

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thegrandverbalizer19 said...

With the name of Allah, Peace be unto those who follow the guidance from their Lord.

Christian apologetic is bankrupt!

answering muslims said...

Some friends and I will be traveling to Dearborn, Michigan, for an outreach at the Arab International Festival. We're printing pamphlets on Christianity and Islam (including my recent posts "Who Corrupted the Gospel?" and "Who Was Muhammad?"), and we have a team of believers to distribute and explain them. However, costs are high, especially for printing (not to mention travel, etc.). We know someone who can print pamphlets at a cost of $299 for 5,000, or $499 for 10,000. Please contribute as much as possible to support our trip to the festival, as this is a phenomenal opportunity to reach Muslims with the Gospel. (In case anyone is wondering, no one on our end will be profiting financially from the trip. We'll be thrilled if we break even.)

sam shamoun suporter said...

geza vermess is not a scholar. and if the hippolytus guy lyed then how does it mean bible writers is lie? and was hippolytus not a catholic? christians dont suport catholics!

Anonymous said...

What if someone os not obtuse? Can they still become a Muslim or is being obtuse required?

Ali said...

//christians dont suport catholics//

yet everytime a catholic church is attacked david wood and james white rush on to abn sat and say how muzlims killed christians. so why are you guys so inconsistent?

Ali said...

and yes geza vermes is a scholar just because he exposes christianity doesn't mean he doesn't know the religion. he most likely knows alot more than you

Anonymous said...

asalamualiaokum wa ramatallahi wa barakathu

I would like to invite all the Muslism to the original Islam, that of submiting to the father, by submiting to the son making him the son your King of Kings, Your Lord of Glory, The Great I AM.

Just as Jesus Submitted his Will to the Fahter, we to Submit are will to the Son, so that

1 cor 15:28 - When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all

I call you to submit to the one who is,

the image of(AJ) the invisible God,(AK) the firstborn of all creation. 16For by[f] him all things were created,(AL) in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether(AM) thrones or(AN) dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created(AO) through him and for him. 17And(AP) he is before all things, and in him all things(AQ) hold together

I call you to submit to him

Becasue there is(A) salvation(B) in no one else, for(C) there is no other(D) name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."