Sunday, 22 January 2017

Simon Whom He Surnamed Peter - Part 34

My Sunday posting today will be the final transcript of the book "Simon Whom He Surnamed Peter" by the Jersey historian, the Reverend G.R. Bailleine (1873 – 1966).

Most of Balleine's books are either currently in print - as for example his History of Jersey - or online in the form of PDF versions. This book is not, so this is something different. As well as being a Jersey historian, Balleine was also a priest in the Church of England, and Ministre Deservant at St Brelade's Church for a time.


`This belief,' says Harnack, `became official between 189 and 217.' It is accepted by Eusebius, `and he,' writes Kirsopp Lake, was an historian of the first rank, and no writer on the chronology of Acts can pass him by. Jerome repeats this belief. The Liberian Catalogue specified 25 years, I month, 8 days, the Liber Pontificalis 2 5 years, 2 months, 3 days. As twenty-five was no sacred or mystical number, they must have believed this figure to be a fact.

They all knew that Peter was not in Rome for twenty-five years. But the word `bishop' in Peter's day had not its later meaning. It is the modern English form of the Greek word episcopos. (It became `ebiscopus', `biscopus', `biscop', then bishop.) It simply meant `overseer'. The Septuagint uses it for the foremen of the masons who restored the Temple (II Chron. xxxiv. 13). The Episcopus at Rome was the Overseer of the Public Victualling.
Paul, though constantly on the move, kept in touch with the Churches he founded (e.g. Corinth, Colossae, Philippi).

Peter may have done the same. If he spent seven years in Rome from 42 to 49, he may have continued to exercise some over-sight over the Church there, till his final visit before his death twenty-five years later. No city was easier to keep in touch with, for ships sailed to Italy from every port.



Few dates in the New Testament can be fixed with absolute precision. The writers took little interest in chronology, and group their stories by subject-matter rather than by time. Secular History, however, gives one or two pin-points:

High-priesthood of Caiaphas. 18-36 (Josephus).
Recall of Pilate. 36 (Josephus).
Reign of Claudius. 41-54 (Tacitus, Suetonius).
Reign of Agrippa in Jerusalem. 41-44 (Josephus).
Reign of Nero. Oct. 54-June 68 (Tacitus).
Burning of Rome. July 64 (Tacitus).
Mass Martyrdoms. 64 or 65 (Tacitus).
Destruction of Jerusalem. 70 (Josephus).

To these may probably be added the expulsion of the Jews from Rome in 49. The expulsion is reported by Suetonius, without a date; but Orosius in 417 put it in 49. This is late evidence, but it fits neatly with Acts, which brings Paul to Corinth in 50, where he lodges with Aquila, who had `lately come from Italy, because Claudius had ordered all Jews to leave Rome'.

Some guidance may be gained from the Jewish Feasts: e.g. two and perhaps three Passovers are mentioned during the Ministry of Christ; the first Speaking with Tongues occurred at Pentecost; Peter was imprisoned by Herod during a Passover. Casual references, like Paul's in Galatians, also sometimes help: `After three years I went to Jerusalem'; `Fourteen years after I went again to Jerusalem'.

Many dates are open to dispute. Hence the frequent use of `probably' and `possibly' in this book. But the following table does not clash with any known facts, and seems a reasonable inference from the information we possess:

A.D. 28 (15th year of Tiberius. Luke). The Baptist's Mission begins.
29 Ministry of Jesus (See Note A).
30 Crucifixion. Pentecost.
34 Martyrdom of Stephen.
35 Conversion of Paul. Peter visits Samaria.
36 Peter visits South Palestine. Conversion of Cornelius.
37 Paul's first visit to Peter.
41 Agrippa becomes King in Jerusalem.
42 Arrest and escape of Peter.
44 Death of Agrippa.
45-49 Peter in Rome.
49 Claudius expels Jews from Rome. Peter returns to Jerusalem. The Apostolic Conference. Visit to Antioch.
50 Dispute with Paul.
50-56 Peter `Bishop' of Antioch.
56-65 Missionary Tours. Corinth, Asia Minor.
62 Murder of James, the Lord's Brother.
64 Fire of Rome.
64 or 65 Nero's Massacre of Christians. Peter's Return to Rome.
66 Peter's Martyrdom.
68 Marcus writes his Gospel.
75 Luke writes Acts.
210 Gaius mentions Peter's `trophy' on the Vatican.
333 (?) Constantine begins to build his Basilica on the Vatican.
1506 Pope Julius II begins to build the present Church.
1950 Gaius's trophy (?) discovered under the High Altar of St. Peter's.

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