Ante-Nicene Fathers/Volume VIII/Apocrypha of the New Testament/The Acts of Philip/Chapter 3
Addition to Acts of Philip.
(From a Paris ms.)
And he taught them thus: My brethren, sons of my Father—for you are of my family as to Christ, substance of my city, the Jerusalem above, the delight of my dwelling-place—why have you been taken captive by your enemy the serpent, twisted, crooked, and perverse, to whom God has given neither hands nor feet? And crooked is his going, since he is the son of the wicked one; for his father is death, and his mother corruption, and ruin is in his body. Do not go then into his destruction; for you are in bondage by the unbelief and deception of his son, who is without order, and has no substance; formless, and has no form in the whole creation, either in the heaven or in the earth, or among the fishes that are in the waters. But if you see him, flee from him, since he has no resemblance to men: his dwelling is the abyss, and he walks in darkness. Flee, then, from him, that his venom may not be poured out upon you: if his venom be poured out upon your body, you walk in his wickedness. But remain rather in the true worship, being faithful, reverent, and good, without guile. Flee from Satan the dragon, and remove from you his wicked seed, namely desire, by which he begets disease in the soul, which is the venom of the serpent. For desire is of the serpent from the beginning, and she it is who arms herself against the faithful; for she came forth out of the darkness, and returns to the darkness. You ought therefore, after coming to us, or rather through us to God, to throw out the venom of the devil from your bodies.
And as the apostle was saying this, behold, Nicanora came forth from her house, and went with her slaves into the house of Stachys. And when she came near the door of the house, behold, Mariamme spoke to her in the Syriac language: Helikomaei, kosma, etaa, mariacha. And she explained her words, saying: O daughter of the Spirit, thou art my lady, who hast been given in pledge to the serpent; but I have come to deliver thee: I shall break thy bonds, and cut them from their root. Behold, the Deliverer that frees thee has come: behold, the Sun of righteousness has risen to enlighten thee.
And when she was thus speaking, the gloomy tyrant came running and panting. And Nicanora, who was before the door, heard this, and took courage before them all, crying out and saying: I am a Hebrew, a daughter of the Hebrews; speak with me in the language of my fathers, because I have heard your preaching, and have been cured of this my disease. I reverence and glorify the goodness of God, in that He hath made you to be utterly spoiled in this earth.
And when she said this, the tyrant came, and took hold of her garments, and said: O Nicanora, did I not leave thee lying on the bed from thy disease? Whence, then, hast thou found this power and strength, so as to be able to come to these magicians? Unless, then, thou tell who is the healer, I shall punish thee most severely. And Nicanora answered, and said: O rearer of tyrants, cast away from thyself this tyranny, and forget thy wicked works, and abandon this temporary life, and put away vainglory, because it passes like a shadow: seek rather what is everlasting, and take away from thyself the beastly and impious work of base desire, and reject vain intercourse, which is the husbandry of death, the dark prison; and overturn the middle wall of corruption, and prepare for thyself a life chaste and spotless, that we may altogether live in sanctity. If, then, thou wishest me to remain with thee, I will live with thee in continence.
And when the tyrant heard these words, he seized her by the hair of the head, and dragged her along, kicking her, and saying: It would be better for thee to be put to death by my sword, than to be seen with these foreign magicians and deceivers. I will punish thee, therefore, and put to death those who have deceived thee. And he turned in a rage to the executioners who followed him, and said: Bring me these impostors. And the executioners ran to the house of Stachys, and laid hold of Philip, and Bartholomew, and Mariamme, with the leopard and the kid of the goats, and dragged them along, and brought them.
When the tyrant saw them, he gnashed his teeth against them, and said: Drag along these magicians and deceivers that have deceived many souls of women by saying, We are worshippers of God. And he caused thongs to be brought, and bound their feet. And he ordered them to be dragged along from the gate as far as the temple. And great multitudes came together to that place. And they wondered exceedingly at the leopard and the kid; for they were speaking like men, and some of the multitude believed the words of the apostles.
And the priests said to the tyrant: These men are magicians. And when he heard that, he burned with rage, and was filled with anger; and he ordered Philip, and Bartholomew, and Mariamne to be stripped, saying: Search them. Perhaps you will find their sorcery. And the executioners stripped them, and laid hold of Mariamne, and dragged her along, saying: Uncover her, that they may learn that it is a woman who follows them. And he ordered to bring clubs and strong cords; and after piercing Philip’s ankles they brought hooks, and put the cords through his ankles, and hung him head downwards on a tree that was before the door of the temple; and they fixed pegs into the temple wall, and left him. And after binding Bartholomew hand and foot, they extended him naked on the wall; and when they had stripped Mariamne, the appearance of her body was changed, and became a glass chest filled with light, and they could not come near her.
And Philip spoke with Bartholomew in Hebrew: Where is John to-day, in the day of our need? for behold, we are being delivered from our bodies. And they have laid hands on Mariamne beyond what is seemly, and they have scourged the leopard and the kid of the goats, and have set fire to the house of Stachys, because he took us in. Let us therefore speak, that fire may come down from heaven and burn them up.
And as Philip was thus speaking, behold, John came into the city, and walked about the street, and asked those in the city: What is the commotion, and who are these men, and why are they punished? And they say to him: Art thou not of this city? And dost thou not know about these men, how they disturbed our houses, and the whole city? Moreover, they have even persuaded our wives to go away from us on the pretence of religion, proclaiming a foreign name, viz. Christ’s; and they have also shut our temples by the sorcery they have, and they have put to death the serpents that are in the city by foreign names that we have never known. And they have fixed their abode in the house of Stachys the blind man, whom they made to recover his sight through the spittle of a woman who accompanies them; and it is perhaps she who has all the sorcery: and there accompany them a leopard and a kid, speaking like men. But if ever you have seen such doings, you will not be put about by them. And John answered, and said to them: Show me them. And they brought him to the temple where Philip was hanging. And when Philip saw John, he said to Bartholomew: O my brother, behold the son of Barega—that is the living water—has come. And John saw Philip hanging head down, tied by his ankles; and saw Bartholomew also bound to the temple wall.
And he said to the men of the city: O children of the serpent, how great is your folly! for the way of deceit has deceived you, the wicked dragon breathing has breathed upon you: why do you punish these men for saying the serpent is your enemy?
And when they heard these words from John, they laid their hands upon him, saying: We called thee our fellow-citizen, but now thy speech has made thee manifest that thou also art in communion with them. Thou also, therefore, shalt be put to the same death as they, for the priests have decided thus: Let us drain out their blood as they hang head downward, and mix it with wine, and offer it to the viper.
And when they were thus speaking, behold, Mariamne rose up from the place in which she was, and came back to her former appearance.
And the priests reached forth their hands towards John, wishing to lay hold of him, and they could not. Then Philip with Bartholomew said to John: Where is Jesus, who enjoins upon us not to take into our own hands vengeance on those that torture us? for after this I will not endure them. And Philip spoke in Hebrew, and said: My Father Uthael, i.e., O Christ, Father of majesty, whose name all the ages fear, who art powerful, and the power of the universe, whose name goes forth in lordship, Eloa: Blessed art Thou to the ages; Thou whom dominions and powers fear, trembling before Thy face; King of honour! Father of majesty! whose name has gone forth to the wild beasts of the desert, and they have become quiet because of Thee, and through Thee the serpents have departed from us: Hear us before we ask. Thou who seest us before we call, who knowest our thoughts, the All-surveyor of all, who sends forth from Himself unnumbered compassions; let the abyss open its mouth, and swallow up these godless persons who will not accept the word of Thy truth.
And in that very hour the abyss opened its mouth, and all that place was violently shaken, from the proconsul to all the multitude along with the priests; and they were all sunk down. And the places where the apostles and all who were with them were remained unshaken, and the house of Stachys, and Nicanora the tyrant’s wife, and the twenty-four wives who fled from their husbands, and the forty virgins who had not known men. These alone did not go down into the abyss, because they had become servants, and had received the word of God, and His seal; but all the rest of the city were swallowed down into the abyss.
And the Saviour having appeared at that hour, said to Philip: Who is it that has put his hand to the plough, and has turned back from making the furrow straight? or who gives his light to others, and himself remains sitting in darkness? or who dwells in the dirt, and leaves his dwelling-place to strangers? or who lays down his garment, and goes out in the days of winter naked? or what slave that has done his master’s service, shall not be called by him to supper? or who runs with zeal in the racecourse, and does not get the prize? Philip, behold my bridal chamber is ready, and blessed is he who has his own shining garment; for he it is who gets the crown of joy upon his head. Behold, the supper is ready, and blessed is he who is called by the bridegroom. Great is the harvest of the field; blessed is the able workman.
And when Philip heard these words from the Saviour, he answered and said to him: Thou didst give us leave, O Jesus of Nazareth, and dost Thou not enjoin us to smite those who do not wish Thee to reign over them? But this we know, that Thy name has not been proclaimed in all the world, and Thou hast sent us to this city. And I did not intend to come into this city, and Thou didst send me, after giving me Thy true commandment, that I should drive away all deceit, and bring to nothing every idol and demon, and all the power of the unclean one. And when I came here, the demons fled from our faces through Thy name, and the dragons and the serpents withered away, but these men did not take to themselves Thy true light; and for this reason I resolved to bring them low, according to their folly.
And the Saviour said: O Philip, since thou hast forsaken this commandment of mine, not to render evil for evil, for this reason thou shalt be debarred in the next world for forty years from being in the place of my promise: besides, this is the end of thy departure from the body in this place; and Bartholomew has his lot in Lycaonia, and shall be crucified there; and Mariamne shall lay down her body in the river Jordan.
And the Saviour turned and stretched out His hand, and made the sign of the cross in the air; and it was full of light, and had its form after the likeness of a ladder. And all the multitude of the men of the city who had gone down into the abyss came up upon the ladder of the cross of light and none of them remained in the abyss, but only the tyrant and the priests, and the viper which they worshipped. And when the multitudes came up from the abyss, they looked and saw Philip hanging head down, and Bartholomew upon the wall of the temple, and they also found Mariamne in her first shape. And the Saviour went up into heaven in the sight of Philip and Bartholomew and Mariamne, and the leopard and the kid of the goats, and Nicanora and Stachys; and they all with a loud voice glorified God with fear and trembling, crying out: There is one God who has sent us His salvation, whose name these men proclaim: we repent therefore of the error in which we were before yesterday, not being worthy of eternal life; and we believe, having seen the wonderful things that have come to pass through us. And some of them threw themselves on their faces, and worshipped the apostles; and others made ready to flee, saying: There may be another earthquake like the one that has just happened.
And stretching out his hands, the Apostle Philip, hanging head down, said: Men of the city, hear these words which I am going to say to you, hanging head down. Ye have learned how great are the powers of God, and the wonders which you saw when your city was destroyed by the earthquake which came upon it. And this was manifest to you, that the house of Stachys was not destroyed and that he did not go down into the abyss, because he believed on the true God, and received us His servants. And I, having fulfilled all the will of my God, am His debtor for what I requited to him that did evil to me.
And some of those who had been baptized ran to loose Philip hanging head down. And he answered and said to them: My brethren,… those who are virgins in the members of their flesh and commit fornication in their hearts, and the fornication of their eyes, shall abound like the deluge. And they grow immoderate from listening to persuasive pleasures, forgetting the God of the knowledge of the Gospel; and their hearts are full of arrogance, eating and drinking in their worship, forgetting the holy commandment, and despising it. That generation is turned aside; but blessed is he that retires into his retreat, for he shall obtain rest in his departure. Knowest thou not, Bartholomew, that the word of our Lord is true life and knowledge? for the Lord said to us in His teaching, Every one who shall look upon a woman, and lust after her in his heart, has completed adultery. And on this account our brother Peter fled from every place in which a woman was, and yet there was scandal on account of his own daughter; and he prayed to the Lord, and she had paralysis of her side, that she might not be deceived. Thou seest, brother, that the sight of the eyes brings gainsaying, and the beginning of sin, as it is written, She looked, and saw the tree, that it was pleasing to her eyes, and good for food, and she was deceived. Let the hearing, then, of the virgins be holy; and in their going out let them walk two and two, for many are the wiles of the enemy. Let their walk and conversation be well ordered, that they may be saved; but if not, let their fruit be common.
My brother Bartholomew, give these promises to Stachys, and appoint him ruler and bishop in the Church, that he may be like thee, teaching well. Do not entrust the office to a man too young: appoint not such a one to the chair of the teachers, lest thou profane the witness of Christ. For he that teaches should have his works corresponding to his words, that the word may be ready on every occasion in its own glory. But I am being released from my body, hanging head down. Take, then, my body, and prepare it for burial in Syrian paper, and do not put about it linen cloth, since they put it upon the body of our Lord, and wrap it close in paper and papyrus, and put it in the vestibule of the holy church. And pray over me for forty days, that God may forgive the transgression which I did, in that I requited evil to him that did evil to me, and there may not be for me in the world to come the forty years.
And after thus speaking, Philip prayed, saying: My Lord Jesus Christ, Father of the ages, King of all light, who makest us wise in Thy wisdom, who hast given us the exalted knowledge, who hast graciously conferred upon us the counsel of Thy goodness, who hast never departed from us; Thou who takest away disease from those who take refuge in Thee; Thou who hast given us the Word, to turn unto Thee those who have been led astray; Thou who hast given us signs and wonders on behalf of those of little faith; Thou who presentest the crown to those who have conquered; Thou who art the judge of the games, who hast given us the crown of joy, who speakest with us, that we may be able to withstand those that hurt us; Thou art He who sows and reaps, and completes, and increases, and vivifies all Thine own servants: reproaches and threats are to us help and power through those who turn to Thee through us, who are Thy servants. Come, Lord, and give me the crown of victory in the presence of men. Let not their dark air envelope me, nor their smoke burn the shape of my soul, that I may cross the waters of the abyss, and not sink in them. My Lord Jesus Christ, let not the enemy find anything that he can bring against me in the presence of Thee, the true Judge, but clothe me in Thy shining robe, and…(The rest is wanting.)
- [The Greek text of this addition is given by Tischendorf in the supplement appended to his volume containing Apocalypses Apocryphæ, pp. 141–150. The ms. from which it is taken is of the eleventh century. Tischendorf regards this form as of Gnostic origin.—R.]
- Or, æons.
- Matt. v. 39; 1 Pet. iii. 9.
- Here a good deal of the text is wanting. The Bodleianms. fills up the blank to some extent:—Walking two and two, but let them not talk with the young men, lest Satan tempt them. For he is a creeping serpent, and made Adam be destroyed even to death. And thus shall it be again at this time, for the time and the season shall be wicked. Many women and men shall leave the work of marriage, and the women shall assume the name of virginity, but knowing nothing at all about it, and that it has a great and glorious seal. And there shall be many men in those days in word only, and not in its power; for they shall observe virginity in the members of the flesh, and commit fornication in their hearts, etc. [Thems. is that referred to on p. 500. Tischendorf gives large extracts from it; the Greek text of this paragraph may be found on pp. 154, 155, supplement to Apocalypses Apocryphæ.—R.]
- Matt. v. 28.
- Gen. iii. 6.