Thursday, September 29, 2016

How Did The Apostles Die? (3)

From Alt.Bible.Errancy discussion group, 6-5-99:

The Apostle Andrew

Goodguy's list indicates that the apostle Andrew was crucified, so let's look at the reliability of this tradition, which, I will emphasize, is only a tradition. Earlier today, John Phipps posted on the Errancy list a copy of a message that he sent to Goodguy in which he asked why Goodguy seems so eager to accept traditions about the apostles but not the many other traditions that originated with the Catholic Church. The assumption was that Goodguy is not a Catholic, and so his position on the apostles seems inconsistent with his rejection of other traditions (unless he is a Catholic and buys the whole ball of wax). At any rate, the traditions about the fate of the apostle Andrew, as we will see, are steeped in Roman Catholic lore. The traditions are inconsistent and even contradictory, but for the most part they do agree that Andrew was crucified. In *The Search for the Twelve Apostles,* McBirnie sees this one thread in the traditions as evidence that Andrew did die by crucifixion. In this respect, McBirnie is arguing the same way that biblicists do in the matter of inconsistencies in the resurrection narratives in the gospels. They all agree that Jesus rose from the dead, and so somehow that is supposed to constitute reliable evidence, even though the narratives are otherwise riddled with inconsistencies. 

Eusebius claimed that the apostle Andrew was "chosen" of the Saviour to preach in Scythia (*History of the Church,* edition previously cited, p. 107), which was located in the Crimean region. Eusebius, however, made no mention of the manner of Andrew's death, although in the same paragraph he refers to the martyrdom of both Peter and Paul. The paragraph mentions Thomas and John and the places where both preached but says only that John died at Ephesus. One must wonder why, if he was aware of excruciating deaths that they had experienced, Eusebius didn't cite the details of the deaths of Andrew and Thomas. This paragraph begins Book 3 after which Eusebius had just ended Book 2 with a discussion of Neronian persecution in which both Peter and Paul had died. It would seem that if Eusebius had known of the horrible fates of other apostles, he would have mentioned them too. However, the paragraph that begins Book 3 specifies only that Peter and Paul had died as martyrs but says nothing about the ways that Thomas and Andrew had died. Curious indeed! Could this possibly mean that Eusebius, who was born about A. D. 260, was unaware of any traditions about how Thomas and Andrew had died? Eusebius referred to Thomas two other times in this work (pp. 66-67, 72-73) but only to mention that Thomas was sent to preach in Edessa. No reference is made to the manner of his death. Eusebius mentioned Andrew nowhere else in his "history of the church." 

This doesn't mean that no traditions existed about Andrew and his manner of death. McBirnie claims that "(a)nother strong tradition places his [Andrew's] ministry in Greece" and that there, "according to the tradition, he was imprisoned, then crucified by order of the proconsul Aegeates, whose wife Maximilla had been estranged from her husband by the preaching of St. Andrew" (edition previously cited, p. 80). Yet the Russian Church claims Andrew as its patron saint largely on the strength of Eusebius's claim (just mentioned) and an apocryphal work "The Acts of St. Andrew and St. Bartholomew," which claims that Andrew was a missionary to the Parthians, who occupied a region now included in Northern Iran and the southern part of the former Soviet Union. 

Edgar Goodspeed cited another tradition that put the ministry of Andrew in Ephesus in Asia Minor (where the apostle John allegedly wrote his gospel). Goodspeed said that tradition put Andrew in the mission field of Scythia but that the "Acts of Andrew, written probably about A. D. 260, describes his labors as taking place chiefly in Greece or in Macedonia, where his martyrdom occurs at Patras as described in his Acts" (*The Twelve,* John C. Winston Company, 1967, p. 99). 

McBirnie said of these conflicting traditions, "Now it would seem, at first glance, that these three traditions are contradictory. But perhaps they are mutually complementary. After all, Andrew had to minister *somewhere* in the world, and if he did not die in Jerusalem it is very possible that he went to Asia Minor to be with his old friend John. Or if for a while he went beyond Asia Minor to Scythia, that too is reasonable..." (p. 81). McBirnie rambled on, stringing together more possibilities and "could-have-beens," but the end result was an attempt to argue that we can't let ourselves be distracted by inconsistencies in the traditions about Andrew. Most of the traditions say that he was crucified, and so why not accept that? 

Other traditions about Andrew show the folly of accepting as historical facts claims that have nothing to support them but religious traditions. One tradition alleged that the Apostle Matthias (who was chosen in Acts 1 to replace Judas) was captured by cannibals, and Matthias was sent to rescue him. After a long voyage, he arrived at Matthias's place of detention and secured his release by converting the entire population of cannibals. As far as I know, this tradition gives no explanation for why Matthias had not been killed and eaten by the cannibals before Andrew could arrive on the scene to bring about his release, but religious traditions almost always have annoying holes in them like this. I suppose that Christians like Goodguy have conditioned themselves not to be bothered by such trivia. 

Various traditions about relics from Andrew's life and ministry have circulated in the Catholic church, and as recently as 1964 Pope Paul VI returned to the Episcopal See of Patros, a skull reputed to be Andrew's, which had been sent to the Church of Saint Peter for safekeeping after the Turks had invaded Byzantium in A. D. 1460. Other relics of Andrew include pieces of his cross, pieces of rope with which he had been secured to the cross, and other bones. 

It is on the basis of such nonsense as this that people like Goodguy rhapsodize that men like Andrew were willing to die for their faith in the resurrection of Jesus, and I have just barely touched the many conflicting traditions about Andrew. I have been unable to find any disinterested accounts of Andrew's ministry and death. If Goodguy knows of any, perhaps he will send them to us. 

Farrell Till

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