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Bible Dictionaries

A Dictionary of Early Christian Biography

Peregrinus, Called Proteus

Peregrinus (1) , called Proteus , an apostate from Christianity and a Cynic philosopher of the 2nd cent., whose history has been satirically told by Lucian. That Lucian's work is not a romance is amply shown by the account of Peregrinus in Aulus Gellius, Noct. Attic. viii. 3, and xii. 11. Other writers, pagan and Christian alike, of the same age, mention him: e.g. Tatian, Orat. adv. Graec. c. 25; Athenagoras, pro Christian. c. 26, who tells us of his statue at Parium; Maximus Tyrius, Diss. iii.; Tertull. ad Mart. c. 4; and Eusebius in his Chronicon (ii. 178 seq. ed. Schöne); cf. also I. Sörgel, Lucian's Stellung zum Christenthum , (1875); Schiller's Geschichte der Kaiserzeit , p. 685; and Bernays' tract Lucian u. die Kyniker (Berlin, 1879). The story of Peregrinus is therefore a very valuable illustration of the life of the 2nd cent. He was born at Parium on the Hellespont, where he committed various crimes, including parricide. He escaped justice by transferring his property to the municipality and then passed over to Palestine, where he became a Christian, and, according to Lucian's account, a bishop or at least a presbyter. He was imprisoned for the faith, and Lucian's words are a valuable and truthful description of the conduct of the Christians towards confessors generally. Crowds attended at the prison and ministered to Peregrinus, bribing the gaolers to obtain admission. The "Teaching of the Twelve Apostles" takes elaborate precautions against wandering apostles and prophets, who desired only to make gain of the gospel. Such a false apostle was Peregrinus. His real character was, however, discovered, and he was excommunicated. He then became a Cynic philosopher, a sect which Lucian specially abhorred, and resided at Rome. He made use of the licence permitted them to abuse the emperor himself, but was speedily expelled by the prefect Urbis. He next passed into Greece, and there, to obtain a greater notoriety, burned himself alive at the Olympic games at the 236th Olympiad a.d. 165. Cf. Strabo, xv. i. 73; Dion Cassius, liv. 9; and Lightfoot On Colossians , p. 394. Dr. Lightfoot has elaborately discussed the relations between the stories of Peregrinus and St. Ignatius (SS. Ignatius and Polycarp , t. i. pp. 129, 133, 331, 450, ii. pp. 206, 213, 306, 356; cf. Salmon's Introd. to the N.T. pp. 522, 650). [LUCIAN.]

[G.T.S.]

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Bibliography Information
Wace, Henry. Entry for 'Peregrinus, Called Proteus'. A Dictionary of Early Christian Biography. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/hwd/p/peregrinus-called-proteus.html. 1911.

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