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Eusebius- How the dead in spirit men of letters argued about the authencity of the Epistles - 69.
1. SINCE we are dealing with this subject it is proper to sum up the writings of the New Testament which have been already mentioned. First then must be put the holy quaternion of the Gospels.
2. After this must be reckoned the epistles of Paul; Eusebius evidently means to include the Epistle to the Hebrews among Pauls epistles at this point, for he mentions it nowhere else in this chapter. next in order the extant former epistle of John, and likewise the epistle of Peter must be maintained. After them is to be placed, if it really seem proper, the Apocalypse of John. Upon Eusebius treatment in this chapter of the canonicity of the Apocalypse above. concerning which we shall give the different opinions at the proper time. These then belong among the accepted writings.
3. Among the disputed writings, which are nevertheless recognized by many, are extant the so-called epistle of James and that of Jude. also the second epistle of Peter and those that are called the second and third of John whether they belong to the evangelist or to another person of the same name.
4. Among the rejected writings must be reckoned also the Acts of Paul and the so-called Shepherd and the Apocalypse of Peter and in addition to these the extant epistle of Barnabas The author of the so-called Epistle of Barnabas is unknown. No name appears in the epistle itself, and no hints are given which enable us to ascribe it to any known writer. External testimony, without a dissenting voice, ascribes it to Barnabas, the companion of Paul. But this testimony, although unanimous, is neither very strong nor very extensive. The first to use the epistle is Clement of Alexandria, who expressly and frequently ascribes it to Barnabas the companion of Paul. Origen quotes from the epistle twice, calling it the Epistle of Barnabas, but without expressing any judgment as to its authenticity, and without defining its author more closely. Jerome evidently did not doubt its authenticity, but placed it nevertheless among the Apocrypha, and his opinion prevailed down to the seventeenth century. It is difficult to decide what Eusebius thought in regard to its authorship. His putting it among the Î½á½¹Î¸Î¿Î¹ here does not prove that he considered it unauthentic nor, on the other hand, does his classing it among the Antilegomena just below prove that he considered it authentic, but non-apostolic, as some have claimed. Although, therefore, the direct external testimony which we have is in favor of the apostolic Barnabas as its author, it is to be noticed that there must have existed a widespread doubt as to its authenticity, during the first three centuries, to have caused its complete rejection from the canon before the time of Eusebius. That this rejection arose from the fact that Barnabas was not himself one of the twelve apostles cannot be. For apostolic authorship was not the sole test of canonicity, and Barnabas stood in close enough relation to the apostles to have secured his work a place in the canon, during the period of its gradual formation, had its authenticity been undoubted. We may therefore set this inference over against the direct external testimony for Barnabas authorship. When we come to internal testimony, the arguments are conclusive against the Levite Barnabas as the author of the epistle. These arguments have been well stated by Donaldson, in his History of Christian Literature, I. p. 204 sqq. Milligan, in Smith and Waces Dict. of Christ. Biog., endeavors to break the force of these arguments, and concludes that the authenticity of the epistle is highly probable; but his positions are far from conclusive, and he may be said to stand almost alone among modern scholars. Especially during the last few years, the verdict against the epistles authenticity has become practically unanimous. Some have supposed the author to have been an unknown man by the name of Barnabas: but this is pure conjecture. That the author lived in Alexandria is apparently the ruling opinion, and is quite probable.