Page:EB1911 - Volume 25.djvu/905

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.
881
STEPHEN (OF ENGLAND)

shall God raise up unto you . . . like unto me.' This is he that was in the Church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the Mount Sinai, and with our fathers; who received living oracles to give unto us: to whom our fathers would not be obedient, but thrust him from them, and turned back in their hearts. . ." (38 seq.). Here we have the very situation as between Stephen and his hearers; and it is made unmistakable by the speaker's closing words (51-53). They will have nothing to say to the greater Mediator of the Divine oracles in Messianic clearness and power. But if so, the reason is not their fidelity to the Mosaic Law, but their infidelity to its spiritual substance. Had they kept the Law dutifully they would have believed on Him in whom true Mosaism was fulfilled and transcended.

In all this there are points both of contact and divergence between Stephen and Paul. Alike they are champions of the "spirit" against the "letter"; and alike they tax unbelieving Judaism with failure to keep the Law in its real sense. But here difference begins. Quite apart from the externalism of Temple worship, to which Paul never alludes, they start from different conceptions of the Law. Stephen, the Hellenist, views it idealistically and with the spiritual freedom of the prophets and of Jesus Himself. But Paul took it more strictly (see Paul). Thus in spite of general kinship of spirit, Stephen is not really Paul's forerunner. He has no sense of antithesis between law and grace; and he makes no reference to the Gentiles. It is rather the author of the Epistle to Hebrews (q.v.) who recalls Stephen. Both deal largely with the Temple and its worship; both expose the externalism of the legal rites of Judaism, as tending to spiritual unreality; and both view the Gospel as the sublimation of the Law on ideal lines. Only, the later thinker contrasts even pure Mosaism with the Gospel of Christ, as old with new, as the Covenant of shadow with that of reality.

As to the authenticity of Stephen's speech, it is generally admitted to be accurate in substance, if not in the words that he uttered. We may suppose it lived in the memory of some associate in such discussions, who would often repeat its tenor in his work as one of the preachers scattered (viii. 4, xi. 19) by the persecution which Stephen's preaching brought on the Jerusalem community, particularly on its Hellenistic section as most identified with the revolutionary aspect which faith in Jesus the Nazarene now for a time assumed in public esti- mation (contrast ii. 47). It would finally be committed to writing, largely because it was so representative of the Hel- lenistic view of the relations of Judaism and Christianity. As such it was given prominence in the book of Acts — a work which shows the greatness of the contributions to the Apostolic age not only of Paul, but also of the Hellenists, those mediators between Jews and Gentiles. Possibly also Paul had spoken in Luke's hearing of Stephen's martyrdom and his own close relations to it (vii. 58, 60, cf. vi. 9).

Stephen's actual martyrdom is described as tumultuary in character, though the legal forms of stoning for blasphemy were observed (58). This is quite consistent with a trial before the Sanhedrin; nor is it inconceivable that an act exceeding the rights of that body under the Romans should have taken place at the impulse of religious fanaticism. Our knowledge of Jewish history is not full enough to warrant denial of the historicity of this feature of the narrative simply on the score of its illegality. Neither is there good reason to assume that the hearing before the Sanhedrin is a touch added by the author of Acts to the source on which he has drawn in the main.

Literature.— All requisite materials will be found in articles in the Ency. Bib. vol. iv., and Hauck's Realencykl. f. protestant. Theol. u. Kirche, vol. xix. The former in particular examines the Midrashic elements (adding to or diverging from the O. T. data) in Stephen's speech, the linguistic features of Acts vi. 1, viii. 3, and various theories as to the source or sources used therein. It also refers to the worthless legends touching Stephen's death and the finding of his relics, collected in Tillemont, Memoires (Eng. ed., 1735). PP- 353-359.


STEPHEN (1097?–1154), king of England, was the third son of Stephen Henry, count of Blois and Chartres, and, through his mother Adela, a grandson of William the Conqueror. Born some time before 1101, he was still a boy when he was taken into favour by his uncle, Henry I. of England. From Henry he received the honour of knighthood and the county of Mortain. In 1118 he severed his connexion with Blois and Chartres, renouncing his hereditary claims in favour of his elder brother Theobald. But he acquired the county of Boulogne by marrying Matilda (c. 1103-1152), the heiress of Count Eustace III. and a niece of Henry's first wife. The old king arranged this match after the untimely loss of his son, William Atheling, in the tragedy of the White Ship; until 1125 Stephen was regarded as the probable heir to the English throne. But the return of the widowed empress Matilda (q.v.) to her father's court changed the situation. Henry compelled Stephen and the rest of his barons to acknowledge the empress as their future ruler (1126). Seven years later these oaths were renewed; and in addition the ultimate claims of Matilda's infant son, Henry of Anjou, were recognized (1133). But the death of Henry I. found the empress absent from England. Stephen seized the opportunity. He hurried across the Channel and began to canvass for supporters, arguing that his oaths to Matilda were taken under coercion, and that she, as the daughter of a professed nun, was illegitimate. He was raised to the throne by the Londoners, the official baronage and the clergy; his most influential supporters were the old justiciar, Robert, bishop of Salisbury, and his own brother Henry, bishop of Winchester. Innocent II. was induced by Bishop Henry to ratify the election, and Stephen thus cleared himself from the stain of perjury. Two charters of liberties, issued in rapid succession, confirmed the King's alliance with the Church and earned the good will of the nation. But his supporters traded upon his notorious facility and the unstable nature of his power. Extortionate concessions were demanded by the great barons, and particularly by Earl Robert of Gloucester, the half-brother of the empress. The clergy insisted that neither their goods nor their persons should be subject to secular jurisdiction. Stephen endeavoured to free himself from the control of such interested supporters by creating a mercenary army and a royalist party. This led at once to a rupture between himself and Earl Robert (1138), which was the signal for sporadic rebellions. Soon afterwards the king attacked the bishops of Salisbury, Ely and Lincoln — a powerful family clique who stood at the head of the official baronage — and, not content with seizing their castles, subjected them to personal outrage and detention. The result was that the clergy, headed by his brother, the bishop of Winchester, declared against him (1139). In the midst of these difficulties he had left the western marches at the mercy of the Welsh, and the defence of the northern shires against David of Scotland had devolved upon the barons of Yorkshire. Stephen was thoroughly discredited when the empress at length appeared in England (Sept. 30, 1139). Through a mis- placed sense of chivalry he declined to take an opportunity of seizing her person. She was therefore able to join her half-brother at Gloucester, to obtain recognition in the western and south-western shires, and to contest the royal title for eight years. Stephen's initial errors were aggravated by bad general-ship. He showed remarkable energy in hurrying from one centre of rebellion to another; but he never ventured to attack the headquarters of the empress. In 1141 he was surprised and captured while besieging Lincoln Castle. The empress in consequence reigned for six months as "Lady (Domino) of the English"; save for her faults of temper the cause of Stephen would never have been retrieved. But, later in the year, his supporters were able to procure his release in exchange for the earl of Gloucester. After an obstinate siege he expelled Matilda from Oxford (Dec. 1142) and compelled her to fall back upon the west. The next five years witnessed anarchy such as England had never before experienced. England north of the Ribble and the Tyne had passed into the hands if David of Scotland and his son, Prince Henry; Ranulf earl of Chester was constructing an independent principality; on the west the raids of the Angevin party, in the east and midlands the