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He wrote several things, particularly the Christian Topography, or the Opinion of Christians concerning the World, in twelve books, still extant, and some while ago published to great advantage by Dom Bernard De Montfaucon. In that work, Cosmas, contrary to the sentiment of all astronomers in general, denies the earth to be spherical; and endeavours to prove his opinion from reason, scripture, and Christian writers, who lived before him.

I cannot avoid taking notice of this writer, his testimony to the scriptures being very considerable; and if I do not confine myself to that, I shall, nevertheless for the sake of brevity, omit divers things, not unworthy of observation; for, as Montfaucon says, the digressions are as valuable as the work itself.






II. 1. And, in the first place, I observe, that Cosmas's canon of the Old Testament was that of the Jews: he has once quoted Baruch, scribe or secretary of the prophet Jeremiah; Ecclesiasticus; and the Maccabees; but not as of authority. The books quoted by him, as of authority, and expressly mentioned, are the Pentateuch; the book of Joshua; the Judges; Ruth; the book of the Kings, and the Chronicles; the book of Psalms; three books of Solomon, the Proverbs, Canticles, and Ecclesiastes; the twelve prophets; and the four larger prophets. Here is no particular mention of Ezra: but that book is elsewhere expressly quoted, with the Chronicles.

2. In another place, having mentioned the historical facts of the Old Testament, to the settlement of the Israelites in the land of Canaan, he says: After that, God raised up to them prophets; David the king, Samuel, the great Elias, and his disciple Elisha; and the twelve; and the four greater prophets, who prophesied of the coming of the Lord Christ.'


3. The book of Job is quoted several times, and as divine scripture.


4. The Psalms are often quoted, and called divine scripture. David is styled by him,' the great David,' king and prophet; and he says, that "the book of Psalms was composed by him. 5. The book of Ecclesiastes is quoted by him with marks of the highest respect: As," the • divine scripture says; by the divine Solomon.' In another place, he seems to diminish Solomon, saying, that he wrote the Proverbs, the Songs, and the Ecclesiastes; having received from • God the grace of wisdom to instruct men in the right conduct of life: but he did not receive



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the grace of prophecy. Nevertheless, I suppose that Cosmas does not deny Solomon the gift of inspiration; but only the gift of prophecy, or foretelling things to come: in the general sense of the word, therefore, he was a prophet, being moved by the Holy Ghost.

6. Having collected testimonies out of the twelve prophets, and last of all out of Malachi, he proceeds immediately to the New Testament.

7. And he says, that the books of the Old Testament were written in Hebrew.

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III. The books of the New Testament, received by Cosmas, are, the four gospels, the Acts, St. Paul's fourteen epistles, and some of the catholic epistles.

1. In the fifth book, where he quotes the books of scripture one after another, and gives some account of each book, he says: Matthew is the first evangelist who wrote a gospel. There being a persecution, when Stephen was stoned, and he also being about to go from that place, the believers entreated him to leave with them a written instruction, with which request he complied: and, being well acquainted, especially with the abode of the Lord in flesh here on this earth, he set before them a pattern of an excellent institution, and of an heavenly and • divine life and conversation:' and what follows.

a Cosma Indicopleustæ Christianorum Opinio de Mundo, sive Topographia Christiana. Ap. B. Montfauc. Nov. Collection. PP. T. ii. p. 113. &c. Paris. 1706.

Ut vero digressionibus gaudet scriptor noster, multa præclara ultro citroque refert. Vereque dici potest, esse ro παρεργον κρειτίον τε εργα. Præf. ib. cap. ii. fin.

Topogr. Chr. 1. ii. p. 137.

L. iii. p. 382. D.

L. ii. p. 145. C.

f L. v. p. 238, 239.

Β Εςι δε και ή προς αξις Κυρ8 εγγραφὼς ἐν ταῖς Παραλιπομεγαις, και εν τῳ Εσδρα τελαγμενη. L. viii. p. 300. Α.


2. Mark, the second evangelist, wrote a gospel at Rome, by the direction of Peter.'


3. Luke is the third evangelist, who having observed many endeavouring to write gospels, ⚫ and inventing things out of their own heads, wrote to his own disciple Theophilus, to guard

h L. v. p. 207. E.

L. ii. p. 128. A. L. iii. p. 167. D.

L. ii. p. 158. B. et passim.
I L. v.

p. 224. B.
L. ii. p. 134. B.
Vid. 1. v. p. 237....241.

9 L. vii. p. 275. D.
* Ούτος πρωτος των ευαγγελίζων συγγραψάμενος ευαγγελίον.
x. λ. L. v. p. 245.

* ... Πείρα εν Ρώμη ενειλαμένο aute. ..-p. 246. D.

1 P. 247. A. . C.

m L. v. p. 238. D.


L. v. p. 139. E.

' him against such accounts.' And here Cosmas likewise mentions the Acts; in which, as well as in his gospel, he says, Luke gives an account of our Lord's ascension into heaven.


4. I would observe here, that, from several places of this work, it appears, this author had in his copies, the first and second chapters of St. Matthew's gospel, and the history of our Lord's nativity, as recorded by St. Luke.


5. The fourth and chief of the evangelists is John the divine: who was more beloved by Christ than all the rest, who leaned upon the Lord's breast, and from thence, as from an overflowing fountain, drew mysteries: to whom, when he dwelt at Ephesus, were delivered by the ⚫ faithful the writings of the other evangelists. Receiving them, he said, that what they had ' written was well written; but some things were omitted by them, which were needful to be ⚫ related. And being desired by the faithful, he also published his writing, as a kind of supplement to the rest, containing such things as these: the wedding at Cana; the history of Nicode'mus; the woman of Samaria; the nobleman [or courtier, John iv. 46...54]; the man blind 'from his birth; Lazarus; the indignation of Judas at the woman that anointed the Lord with ' ointment; the Grecks that came to Jesus; his washing his disciples feet; and suitable instructions upon several occasions; and the promise of the Comforter; and concerning the deity of Christ, expressly and clearly at the beginning, and premising that as the foundation of his work: all which things had been omitted by the rest.'

6. In the next place are large quotations of discourses of Peter, recorded in the Acts of the apostles.



7. Afterwards, follows the great apostle Paul, the great master of the church, and leader




of the heavenly band, who had Christ speaking in him: of whose fourteen epistles Cosmas says, ⚫ it is not needful for him to allege all the places that are to his purpose. However, he gives a general account of them, and in this order: to the Romans; to the Corinthians; to the Galatians; to the Ephesians; Philippians; Colossians; Thessalonians; Hebrews; Timothy; Titus; Philemon.' He says, the epistle to the Hebrews was written in Hebrew; and was translated into Greek, as is said, by Luke, or Clement. In like manner the gospel of Matthew,' that is, as I understand him, was written in Hebrew; for I do not judge it necessary to suppose, that Cosmas intended to intimate, that St. Matthew's gospel had the same translators as the epistle to the Hebrews; or to say any thing at all about the authors of that translation: but only, that Matthew's gospel was written in Hebrew, in like manner as Paul's epistle to the Hebrews.

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8. He says, in another place, the epistle to the Hebrews was written to the Jews who believed in Christ.


9. Cosmas takes but little notice of the catholic epistles, except it be to answer objections, which were brought thence against some of his assertions. And in one place he says expressly I forbear to allege arguments from the catholic epistles; because, from ancient time, the Church has looked upon them as of doubtful authority. And of all who have written com• mentaries upon the divine scriptures, not one has taken notice of the catholic epistles: and all 'who have given an account of the canonical books of divine scripture, have spoken of them as doubtful, particularly Irenæus, bishop of Lyons, a man of great note, and eminent piety, who lived not long after the apostles; and Eusebius Pamphili; and Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria and Amphilochius, bishop of Iconium, friend of the blessed Basil, in his lambics to Seleucus, expressly declares them to be doubtful. In like manner Severian, bishop of Gabala, in his books against the Jews, rejects them; forasmuch as most men say, they are not writings of apostles, but of some others, who were elders only. And, agreeably hereto, Eusebius Pamphili, in his Ecclesiastical History says, that at Ephesus are two monuments, one of John the evangelist, and another of John an elder, who wrote two of the catholic epistles; even the second and third, inscribed after this manner: "the Elder to the elect Lady; and the Elder. to the beloved Gaius:" and both he, and Irenæus say, that but two are written by apostles,


⚫ even the first of Peter, and the first of John: and some say, that neither are they written by

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a Vid. 1. iii. p. 147. A. p. 176. E. 1. v. p. 245. C. D. E. p. 247. et passim.

ο Οὗτος ὁ θεολόγος Ιωάννης, ὁ έξαρχος των ευαγγελίσων.

P. 248.

CP. 249...251.

с P. 253. C.

P. 251. .253.

r P. 254, 255.

8 P. 255. C.

1 Ο δε αποςολος Παυλος προς τες εκ των Εβραίων πεπίςευ

κοίας εις Χρισον γεγραφηκεν. κ. λ. L. vii. p. 279. D.

ὁ Σιωπωμεν δὲ ὅτι τὰς καθολικας ανεκαθεν ή εκκλησία αμφία


βαλλομενάς εχει. κ. λ. L. vii. p. 292. Β... Ε.

• apostles, but by elders only. They argue in this manner: The epistles of John are numbered, the first, second, and third; as being all three written by one and the same person.


• receive the epistle of James, together with those two [that is, the first of Peter, and the first of


John]. Among the Syrians are found only the three before mentioned; I mean, the epistle of James, the epistle of Peter, and the epistle of John: they have not the rest. Upon the whole, it does not become a perfect Christian, to endeavour to confirm any thing by doubtful books; when the books in the Testament acknowledged by all, have sufficiently declared all ⚫ things needful to be known, concerning the heavens, and the earth, and the elements, and the whole Christian doctrine.'

Upon this passage of Cosmas, many remarks might be made; I shall mention these following: (1.) His expressions are in some places ambiguous, and therefore obscure: it is not always certain, whether he intends to be understood of all the catholic epistles in general, or of some only.

(2.) Cosmas betrays an inclination to represent all the catholic epistles as doubtful, and to diminish their authority:

(3.) But that is unreasonable: all ancient Christians, in general, received one epistle of Peter, and one epistle of John.


(4.) Cosmas says, that not one of the ancient commentators of sacred scripture had written a commentary upon the catholic epistles: which, as Montfaucon observes, is not rightly said; for Didymus of Alexandria wrote commentaries upon all the seven catholic epistles.

(5.) It is not needful for us now to consider the accounts here given of the sentiments of Irenæus, Eusebius, Athanasius, Amphilochius, and others; or to examine whether these accounts be right or not: forasmuch as their testimony to the sacred scripture has been already observed, in their several chapters.

(6.) The seven catholic epistles were all well known in Egypt, where Cosmas lived, and were all received by many. So much is manifest from himself.

(7.) The Christians in Syria received three only of the catholic epistles. Of this Cosmas speaks positively it may be supposed, therefore, that is a thing about which he was well assured, and for the truth of which he may be relied upon. So thought Montfaucon and Beausobre.

* Ου χρη ουν τον τελειον Χρισιανον εκ των αμφιβαλλομενων επισηρίζεσθαι, των ενδιαθείων και κοινως ὁμολογόμενων γραφων. ἱκανῶς πανία μηνυονίων περι τε των εράνων και της γης, και των τοιχείων, και παύλος το δογματος των Χρισιανων. Ib. P. 292. E.



(8.) Though Cosmas was shy of quoting the catholic epistles, because, from the second epistle of Peter a strong objection was brought against one of his opinions; yet I think, he must have received three of them; the epistle of James, the first of Peter, and the first of John; for, to the epistle of James he has a respectful reference in the introduction to his work, which is to this purpose: In the name of the one God...from whom descends to us, from above, every good and perfect gift.' See James i. 17. And he quotes the conclusion of the first epistle of Peter, the church," which is at Babylon, saluteth you," as a proof of the early progress of the Christian religion, without the bounds of the Roman empire; by which, therefore, we perceive, that by Babylon he did not understand Rome. He has also quoted 1 Pet. i. 12.



(9.) We here see plainly expressed, that opinion of the ancient Christians, that no book, doctrinal or epistolary, ought to be received as of authority, unless written by an apostle and known to be so. All the catholic epistles bore the names of apostles: but whilst it was doubtful, with regard to several of them whether they were written by apostles, so long they were of doubtful authority.

Hic sane Cosmas non accurate rem agit... Didymus enim Alexandrinus integros in septem illas epistolas commentarios edidit, teste Hieronymo. Præf. in Cosm. Topogr. p. 17.

Secundam item Petri, et epistolam Judæ apostoli, perinde atque secundam et tertiam Joannis, a Syris, atque adeo ab Antiochenis, non admissas fuisse, diserte docet Cosmas Ægyptjus, qui tempore Justiniani Imperatoris scribebat. Sic autem habet. p. 292.... Hinc manifeste vides, etiam tempore Justiniani Imperatoris, ex catholicis illis epistolis nonnisi tres

apud Syros, atque adeo in ecclesia Antiochena, receptas fuisse. Montf. Diatrib. in Synops. S. S. ap. Chrys. Τ. 6.

p. 309.

d Cet auteur, qui étoit Egyptien, et qui florissoit dans le vi. siècle, assure que les Syriens n'ont que la 1. epître de S. Jean, la 1. de Pierre, et celle de Jaques: qu'à l'égard des quatre autres, elles ne se trouvent pas même dans leurs églises. Hist. de Manich. T. i. p. 295.


Ομοιως και εν ταις καθολικαις το ειρημένον, εν η εξανοι πυρεμένοι λυθήσονται. κ. κ. [2. Pet. iii. 12.] L. vii. p. 290. E. Conf. p. 291. E.

f L. 113. A.

8 L. ii. p. 147. E.

h L. vii. p. 289. A.


(10.) Lastly, we cannot omit to observe what is said at the end of this passage: that no perfect,' or well instructed Christian, should endeavour to prove any thing, but by the canonical books of scripture, acknowledged by all; which books have sufficiently declared whatever is needful to be known concerning the doctrines of religion.' A very valuable testimony to the sufficiency of scripture; and agreeable to the sentiments of all ancient Christians, in general, as we have seen!

10. Hitherto we have seen nothing concerning the book of the Revelation; nor do I remember that there is any notice taken of it in this remaining work of Cosmas; and as it is a work of some length, and much is there said about the scriptures of the Old and New Testament, the entire omission of this book must be an argument, that it was not received by him. But whether the Revelation was received by Cosmas, or not, it is very likely that it was received by many Christians in Egypt.

11. These then, as at first said, are the books of the New Testament, received by Cosmas: the four gospels; the Acts of the apostles; fourteen epistles of the apostle Paul, and three catholic epistles; the epistle of James; one epistle of the apostle Peter; and one epistle of the apostle John.

IV. I would willingly observe the general titles and divisions of the books of sacred scripture, and the tokens of high respect for them, manifest in this writer.


1. This is the design of all the divinely inspired scripture, both of the Old and the New • Testament.'



2. Moses and the prophets, Christ and his disciples, the evangelists and apostles, say nothing else.'


3. You should observe the harmony of Moses, and all the prophets; and of the evangelists ⚫ and apostles.'

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4. Moses and the prophets said nothing of themselves, but only as inspired by divine

' revelation.' Some may think that our author had here an eye to 2 Pet. i. 21.


5. In some places already mentioned, and in many others, the whole of the New Testament is comprehended in the expression of evangelists and apostles.

6. He relies, he says, entirely, upon the truly divine scripture for what he advances.

7. Moses and the prophets, the Lord Christ, and the apostles.'



8. Blessed therefore are all they, who, by the divine scriptures of the Old and New Testa ent, know the one God, Creator of all.'

V. I would now mention two observations:

1. The canon of the New Testament had not been settled in the time of this writer, by any authority that was decisive and universally acknowledged. The long passage concerning the catholic epistles, which we have seen, seems to afford full proof of this: for determining the regard due to those epistles, he appeals to the testimony of the church in early times, the commentators upon scripture, and divers ancient writers; and, in the end, mentions different opinions about them in his own time, and speaks of those epistles, or several of them, as of doubtful authority, whilst other parts of scripture were universally acknowledged; all which tends to shew, that the canon of the scriptures of the New Testament had not been settled, and decided by any authority in which all acquiesced. But Christian people were at liberty to judge for themselves, concerning the genuineness of writings proposed to them as apostolical; and to determine according to evidence.

2. I think that the work of this learned man, who had travelled, and seen divers parts of the world; and had also read, and was acquainted with the writings of ancient Christians, affords a good argument, that there never were any books of authority with Christians, beside those books of the Old and New Testament which are now received by us: and as, in the Old Testament, the writers are prophets; so, in the New, the writers are apostles and evangelists. This appears from his quotations, and from the titles and divisions of scripture just transcribed: moreover, after having supported his opinions, as he was able, by the writings of the prophets and

• Ούλος ὁ σκοπός πασης της θεοπνευσε γραφής, παλαιας τε και καινης διαθήκης. L. v. p. 208. Β.

• Ὁ κοσμογράφος τοινυν Μωϋσης, και οι λοιποι πανίες προ φηται. . . αλλά και ̔ι κυρίῳ παραγέγονοτες, και οἱ τεla μαθηται, Ευαγγελιςαι και αποςολοι, ουδεν ἕτερον ανεκήρυξαν. L. v. L. v. p. 255. D.

p. 243. A.



115. B.

4...αλλ' εκ θειας αποκαλύψεως εμπνευσθενίες. L. i. p.
L. i. p. 115. E. L. v. 245. A.
L. i. p. 115. E. Vid. et p. 116. A...E.


τον δε δεσποίην Χρισον και τες αποςολας. L. i. p. 117. A. L. vi. p. 271. E.


apostles, for farther satisfaction, he alleges passages of divers writers who had lived before him. Some, it seems, after the publication of the former part of this work, in which are so many quotations of the several parts of canonical scripture, said, that his interpretations of scripture were different from those of our fathers, who might be reasonably supposed to have understood the true meaning of scripture. Well, what authors does he now allege? Does he produce passages of Hermas, Clement, Ignatius, the Recognitions, the Clementines, the Constitutions, the Acts or Preaching of Paul, or Peter, or Matthias, or any other like writings? No: his first author is Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria; and, after that, Gregory Nazianzen, and some others; which, I think, must be allowed to be a good argument, that the writings of early Christians, after the apostles, never were of authority. Cosmas alleges none of them; nor did they, who made exceptions to the first edition of his work, expect such citations from him; for he makes no apology for taking no notice of them; but immediately proceeds to writers of the fourth century, whose works never could make any pretensions to be part of the rule of faith. So now in a like case, a writer of the present time, after proofs from the Old and the New Testament, might for the satisfaction of some objectors, quote Stillingfleet, and Tillotson, and Burnet, or Owen, and Baxter, and Manton.

VI. I shall add a few select passages:


1. He says, that all Christ's miracles were suited to his excellent and gracious doctrine, being healing and beneficial. If any should object the loss of the swine, and the fig-tree; those miracles were not wrought on men, but only on brutes and a vegetable plant. He afterwards considers also the action of Christ's driving the buyers and sellers out of the temple; and says, that even then Christ did not strike any man with the whip which he had in his hand, but the brute animals only.



2. Cosmas speaks very agreeably of the progress of the Christian religion: he observes, thata the gospel was first preached by the apostles with great success, in the Roman empire; soon after that it was preached in Persia, by the apostle Thaddeus. Accordingly, it is written in the catholic epistles: The church, which is at Babylon, elected together with you, saluteth • you.' In another place he enlarges upon the wonderful progress of the Christian religion, as agreeable to what Christ had foretold. [John xvi. 33. Matth. xvi. 18. xiii. 33. xxiv. 14.] For,' says he, though from the beginning Christians were persecuted by the Greeks and Jews, they ⚫ overcame, and drew over their enemies to themselves: accordingly, we see, the church has not • been destroyed, but still subsisting and multiplied; and the whole earth filled, and still more and more filling, with the doctrine of the Lord Christ, and the gospel preached in all the • world; which, says he, I myself have seen in many places, and therefore can bear witness to the truth of it.' He here mentions a great many countries, remote from each other, where the gospel had been planted; and particularly several places in the Indies, where he had been, in which were many churches. He expressly says, that in Persia were many churches and bishops, and people, and many martyrs; as also in Ethiopia and Arabia..



1. FACUNDUS, a learned African bishop, flourished about the year of Christ 540.

2. I need not take notice of quotations of the Gospels, and Acts, and other books of the New Testament, which were always received by all Christians in general, in every part of the world.

L. 10. p. 315. C. D.


* Παρίῳ δε εις μεσόν πρωτος ὁ μέγας Αθανάσιος, τα αυτά ἡμῖν κηρυτίων. Ibid E.

• L. iii. p. 164, 165,

L. ii. p. 147. E. 148. A.

L. iii. p. 178. C. D. E. et p. 179.
Ib. p. 179. E.

Vid. Cav. H. L. Du Pin, Bib, T. v.
Ec. ad Isidor. de Ser. Ec. c. 18. et 19.

p. 75. Fabric. Bib.

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