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It seems to have died out soon after; at least no mention is made of it after that date.*
Severus and his guide and friend, the Bishop Martinus, although like Priscillianus and his followers evincing a decided preference for an ascetic life, were opposed to that sect; but they disapproved most energetically the violent proceedings of their enemies in allowing the matter to be taken out of the control of a synod, the proper authority in matters of doctrine and religious practice, and transferred to an imperial court of justice. The consequence was a schism among the orthodox clergy which was not healed for many years. Martinus for the remaining sixteen years of his life refused to be present at any synod or convention of bishops.
But the attention of Bernays is not limited to the sect of Priscillianus. In many other instances he points out, with great shrewdness, penetration, and ingenuity, the impression Severus wishes to make upon his readers, or the views applicable to his own times and circumstances which he desired to inculcate, sometimes by a slight and scarcely perceptible departure from, or modification of, the Biblical narrative, or by the introduction of a brief remark.
Some of these latter instances should, perhaps, be briefly mentioned, as they have some bearing upon the historical reliability of Severus, and thus upon some of the theories or hypotheses of Bernays. Speaking of the arrest of the prophet Jeremiah, and the willingness of King Zedekiah to release Jeremiah, Severus, in conformity with the Scriptures, remarks that the chiefs opposed this measure, adding of his own, without any authority of the Scriptures, that it is the practice of princes to oppress the good (" obsistentibus Judæorum principibus, quibus iam inde a principio moris fuerat bonos premere"). Then, in the sequel of the account, he suddenly exchanges the term chiefs for priests ("Sed rex, licet impius, aliquanto tamen sacerdotibus mitior, educi prophetam de lacu et carceris custodiæ reddi iubet "). Bernays explains this change of terms, which has not a little puzzled some of the editors and interpreters of the Chronicle, by the desire of Severus of
* See Neander's Eccles. Hist., Vol. III. pp. 993-1005. VOL. LXXII.5TH S. VOL. X. NO. I. 3
making the parallel between the conduct of the Emperor Maximus, influenced as he was by the bishops belonging to the party of Bishop Ithacius, and the treatment of the Priscillians, on the one hand, and the conduct of King Zedekiah, controlled in his treatment of the prophet by the chiefs, on the other, more complete.
Of a still greater departure from his Biblical authority is Severus guilty in the account of King Saul, who, according to Scripture, was merely threatened with the future loss of the throne as a punishment for having offered a sacrifice without waiting for the arrival of Samuel. Not satisfied with this, Severus states that the Israelitish army, in consequence of the guilt of the king, was seized by a panic ("ex delicto regis metus omnem exercitum pervaserat"); representing thus the inefficiency of the army as a punishment of the act of Saul, while the Scriptures ascribe it exclusively to the want of arms, the legitimate result of a previous treaty with the Philistines which interdicted the manuufacture of iron for any but agricultural purposes. Why this departure from the truth? Because Severus wishes to aim a blow at the unjustifiable interference of the Emperors Gratianus and Maximus in the case of the sect of Priscillianus.
To censure the Roman practice of paying, on festive days, divine honors to the statues and images of the emperors, Severus avails himself of the story of Nebuchadnezzar, but not without taking a similar liberty with the fact as stated in the Scriptures. These relate that the king erected a golden image, and commanded it to be worshipped, without saying whose the image was. Severus says that it was the king's own image ("statuam sibi auream immensæ magnitudinis posuit adorarique eam ut sacram effigiem præcepit”).
After these and other instances of a somewhat questionable liberty taken by Severus in the use of his Biblical sources, Bernays concludes this part of his work with this general confession: "Even if, in order to mirror his own time in the Book of God, he may naively have given a certain inclination to the glass to suit his purpose, we will not take offence at this, since we possess the original of the Bible as our inheritance, that cannot be falsified, and need not learn
its true meaning from him and such as he." It may be said that the independent republican spirit displayed by Severus in the above-mentioned cases is honorable and praiseworthy. It may be so, but it cannot justify this tampering with the truth of history. We are by no means disposed to be very severe upon Severus for this failing, but it should not be overlooked when there is occasion to compare his historical truthfulness with that of other historians. It is very true, that the liberty which Severus took with the text of the Old Testament will have but little power to mislead us into an erroneous interpretation of the Scriptures; but is it to be supposed or taken for granted that a writer who did not scruple, when it suited his purpose, to modify the language of the Scriptures, was more scrupulous in the use of his other authorities?
That part of Bernays's work which relates to the language and object of Severus is elaborated with great learning and ingenuity. The object of Severus, as stated by himself, was to furnish to Roman readers an abridgment of the historical contents of the Old Testament, and of the succeeding history to his own time, which was by no means to supersede the Scriptures, but which should meet the objections of cultivated and refined readers to the uncouth and barbarous translations then in use, (especially the Itala, - the translation of Jerome appeared 404, after the Chronicle of Severus,) and render intelligible to Romans, familiar with Roman customs, laws, and jurisprudence, the customs, and more especially the civil and criminal legislation, of the Jews. This is done in a language drawn from the best of the leading Roman historians, Sallust, Tacitus, Velleius, and with that clearness and precision which could only belong to a professional lawyer, and which would attract the attention of his professional brethren. The work was intended to render the Old Testament, the foundation and starting-point of Christianity, intelligible and palatable to the refined, highly educated, and critical Romans of the time of Severus.
From the words of Severus, as quoted above, it appears that he used profane authors, whenever he found it expedient so to do. One of the most interesting portions of the work of Bernays is that in which he makes the destruction of Jerusa
lem the special subject of a very careful examination, contrasting the account of that event by Severus with that by Josephus, and arriving at the conclusion not only that Josephus has misrepresented the facts, while the account of Severus is the true one, but that Severus undoubtedly derived his account from the Historia of Tacitus, and that thus the work of Severus serves to restore this portion of Tacitus. The charge against Josephus is a serious one, the arguments employed to support it are ingenious, and the result, if established, important, reasons enough for subjecting the hypothesis of Bernays to a close scrutiny.
We shall endeavor to state the argument of Bernays with the greatest care, so that, if we shall arrive at a conclusion different from his, it may not be ascribed to a misapprehension or unfair statement of his reasoning.
Bernays begins with the remark that, although the destruction of Jerusalem belongs to the same class of transactions as the destruction of Carthage and Corinth, so far as the amount of ruin is concerned, there was not the same necessity of destroying Jerusalem as there was for the destruction of the other two cities. In the former cases, the Roman republic, having no standing army, had no other choice than to destroy these strongholds of its enemies, while in the case of Jerusalem it would have been as easy to retain by military force the conquered city as Alexandria. Later, after the excitement of passion had subsided, this view that the city might have been spared became more predominant, and the explanation which Titus either gave, or would have liked to give, is contained in the account of his client Josephus. Bernays is of opinion that the work of Josephus, notwithstanding its reliability in general, often reminds the reader that it was written under the censorship of Titus; that the description of the catastrophe of Jerusalem excites a suspicion, as if not a fact were related, but an opinion or thesis defended; that Josephus repeatedly reminds his readers that the Romans, by order of Titus, had made every effort to save the city, and especially the temple; that the Jews in their desperation were the first to set the temple on fire, and that its final destruction was caused by a firebrand thrown by a Roman soldier, without
command, through a window into the interior of the building; that the command of Titus to extinguish the fire was not heeded in the tumult of the battle, and Titus's own subsequent efforts to the same end were fruitless. However possible all this may be, it must appear strange that such details should have been noticed in the confusion of the assault, which Josephus himself describes as terrific; and, while sound historical criticism renders it proper to leave all this detail out of consideration, we see in the account of Josephus nothing but a version approved by Titus; and, instead of inquiring how the fire originated, it will be necessary to go back to the time before the assault, and ascertain what the intention of the council of war on this point was, whether the plan of attack was controlled by the intention of sparing the temple, or of destroying it under any circumstances. Josephus, indeed, relates that three opinions were expressed in the council of war; - one urging the destruction at any rate, for the rebellion could not be crushed as long as the temple presented a rallying-point; -a second recommending the sparing of the temple as a sacred building, in case it should be evacuated by the Jews; if defended by them, it would cease to be a temple, and might be treated like a fortress;—finally, a third, maintained by Titus, and eventually supported by three of the six members of his council, that the temple should be spared, even if the Jews made it a means of defence. Accordingly, Josephus represents the destruction as contrary to the decision of the council; as accidental, or the result of Divine interposition; as an event deeply lamented by Titus. As it is neither usual, nor to some extent possible, to obtain information concerning the destruction of Jerusalem from other sources, it was to be expected that the account of Josephus should be generally received. Bernays finds a confirmation of his view that the attempt of protecting Titus against the charge of unnecessary severity in destroying Jerusalem and the temple was an after-thought, in a passage of Valerius Flaccus,
"Solymo nigrantem pulvere fratrem Spargentemque faces et in omni turre furentem,"
*It is possible, but by no means certain, that Valerius Flaccus intended thus to