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Bible Dictionaries

A Dictionary of Early Christian Biography

Simeon (1)

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Simeon (1) 2nd bp. of Jerusalem succeeding James the Lord's brother. According to the statement of Hegesippus preserved by Eusebius Simeon was the son of Clopas "mentioned in Holy Scripture" (Joh_19:25) the brother of Joseph and therefore legally the uncle of our Lord while Simeon himself—ὁ ἐκ τοῦ θείου τοῦ Κυρίου—was legally his cousin ὄντα ἀνεψιὸν τοῦ Κυρίου and of the royal line of David (Eus. H. E. iii. ii 32 ; iv. 22). The language of Hegesippus (H. E. iv. 82) evidently distinguishes between the relationship of James and Simeon to our Lord. Dr. Mill however follows Burton (H. E. i. 290) in regarding Simeon as a brother of James and also of Jude though perhaps by another mother (Mill Pantheistic Principles pp. 234 253). Such an interpretation of Hegesippus's language is very unnatural and at variance with the statement of Epiphanius that Simeon was the cousin—ἀνεψιός—of James the Just (Epiph. Haer. lxxvii. c. 14 p. 1046; cf. Lightfoot Galatians p. 262). Bp. Lightfoot regards his age as "an exaggeration," and suggests that his being "a son of Cleopas mentioned in the Evangelical records "requires us to place his death earlier than the generally received date. According to Hegesippus Simeon was unanimously chosen to fill the vacant see of Jerusalem on the violent death of James the Just the date usually assigned for which being 62 or 63 (see Josephus Ant. xx. 9. 1). Whether the appointment of Simeon immediately succeeded or was not made till the retirement of the Christian Jews to Pella cannot be determined. The former seems rather more probable. His retreat at Pella would save him from the inquisition after descendants of the royal line of David made by Vespasian according to Eusebius (H. E. iii. 12) as well as the later inquiry instituted by Domitian (ib. 19 20). He must have returned with the Christians to Jerusalem when allowed to do so by the Roman authorities. Of his episcopate we know nothing. He was martyred in the reign of Trajan (ἐπὶ Τραϊανοῦ; Eus. H. E. iii. 32) but the exact date is uncertain. By a misinterpretation of the Chronicon of Eusebius which seemed to assign his martyrdom with that of Ignatius to the 9th or 10th year of Trajan Simeon's death has been assigned to 107 or 108. Bp. Lightfoot has shewn good reason for placing it earlier in Trajan's reign (Lightfoot Ignatius i. 21 58–60 ii. 442–450). Hegesippus says that in his 121st year Simeon was accused before Atticus then proconsul by certain Jewish sectaries first that being of the line of David he was a possible claimant of the throne of his royal ancestor and secondly that he was a Christian. He was tortured for many days in succession and bore his sufferings with a firmness which astonished all the beholders especially Atticus himself who marvelled at such endurance in one so advanced in age. Finally he was ordered to be crucified (Eus. H. E. iii. 32).

[E.V.]


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Bibliography Information
Wace, Henry. Entry for 'Simeon (1)'. A Dictionary of Early Christian Biography. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/hwd/s/simeon-1.html. 1911.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, September 19th, 2019
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
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