UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA - AFRICAN STUDIES CENTER
THE MARTYRDOM OF ST. PELAGIA OF CAESAREA
THE SAINT PACHOMIUS ORTHODOX LIBRARY
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THE "EPISTLE" OF ST. PELAGIA OF CAESAREA
[EDITOR'S NOTE: There are a number of Orthodox saints named Pelagia; the life of Pelagia of Caesarea has been preserved only in an Ethiopic version. The curious title "epistle" evidently refers to the fact that the story takes place in apostolic times and features St. Paul as its main character. One has the impression the text may even be a fragment from a lost version of the Acts of Paul and Thekla. -N. Redington]
THE EPISTLE OF PELAGIA
translated from the Ge'ez by Edgar J. Goodspeed, 1904
The Epistle of Pelagia. When Paul came to the region of Caesarea, he taught again there also the way of the Lord, according to his custom always; and they, [even] every man of the city, who doubted and did not believe in law, because they were not of it, reviled Paul, and they took him and seized him, and put him in bonds, saying to him, Thou hast brought unto us a law that is not ours. And he said to them, But ye also were not born of old, [that ye should] judge me. But now, what man seeketh of old--doth he not seek what is right and good? As said the prophet David, "Know ye, know ye, that I am, and there is no other Lord beside me, saith God." --
Ask your fathers and they will tell you,
and your elders and they will inform you,
whether there was anyone before him who did a wonder,
and whether there was after him a creator of the universe,
and there is none beside him.
He is from before the world,
and he is after the world.
He is of old also,
and he is now,
and there is no god beside him;
who spread out the heavens as a bowl,
and will roll them up like a scroll;
and everything decayeth and passeth away,
but he is God,
and his years also fail not.
To him we will bow down,
and him we will praise,
and his might we will hallow,
and his name we will worship, and we will bow down.
And then the judge wondered, and he despised him, and let him go. And Paul departed toward the mountain. And as he walked there, Paul found a lion, and his height was twelve cubits, and his size as that of a horse. And he met Paul, and they saluted each other as though they knew each other. And the lion said unto Paul, Well met, Paul, servant of God, and Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ! I have one thing which I ask thee to do unto me. And Paul said unto him, Speak; I will hear. And the lion said, Make me to enter among the mature Christians. And Paul took him and made him to enter among the mature Christians. And when he had finished the law of the seventh day, [then] they bade each other farewell. And again Paul returned to the city.
And a certain man said to him, My brother, who is older than I, is dead; and come, make a prayer in my house. And then Paul went and found him that was dead, and he said, What aileth you? Do not weep, be silent. And Paul began to pray, and he said, My Lord Jesus Christ, who art not slow to do good, wherever they call upon thee, and name thee, thou art there, but there is not one that seeth thee, and that is able to see thee. For the sake of men shew thine eternal wonders, that man may not doubt and say, Where is this lord who is named the lover of men? Do thou, O Lord, give life to this man, for from thee is every gift; and even if that which thou hast given repent thee, do not take away the faith which thou hast given us. Give to this man faith, until thy power come again, [even] they judgment which is not found vain. And he said, Thou man, arise. And he arose and regained consciousness and many believed, and followed him saying, Teach us also a faith such that, when one asks, one makes the dead to arise and live.
And he said to them, If ye have faith in your heart, as much as a mustard seed, then ye shall say to this mountain, Depart, and it will depart. See ye that faith saves in everything. And they said unto him, May we also hear it, we seek of thee.
And he began to teach them; and he said to them, See Rahab, the harlot, that by her faith she entered into the kingdom of heaven. And see that the three children were saved by their faith from the fire. See ye that by faith he saves. And by his faith Daniel was saved from the mouth of the lions. See ye Ezekiel the prophet; he was saved from the pit of clay. See Thekla, that by her faith she escaped from the fire and the mouth of the lions. See Abraham, that for his faith God said to him, My friend. See Isaac, that by his faith he was saved from the sword of and from the altar of sacrifice, and Isaac heard him who spoke. And see Joseph, that by his faith he escaped from the pit and from his brethren and from the hand of Pharaoh, the king, and he became ruler. And why should I tell you of other prophets, and of our fathers also who pleased God? And see his brethren and his chosen ones; Elijah, who ascended alive into the heavens, and his creator made him ascend in a chariot of fire, with horses of fire drawing him at his command. And by his faith Elijah asked of God that it should not rain upon the earth three years and six months, and it was so. And see Elisha, who by his faith, healed a leper, when he asked, and made the dead also to live, and this by entreating Jesus Christ.
And now also my brethren, believe with all your heart and with all your strength and with all your soul, that Christ, God the Father and Son and Holy Spirit, is one God, and all that ye ask he will give you and do for you. But I say unto you, if you believe that the Lord is God and do not do his will, your faith is vain; and what doth it profit to believe, if ye do not the will of him in whom ye have believed? Behold, see, the demons also believe that God is Lord, and do not do his will. According, therefore as they do not do his will and do not keep the commandment of God, they are vain. But if therefore ye believe that Christ is God, ye shall not steal, ye shall not commit adultery, and ye shall not worship idols, and ye shall not swear, and ye shall not covet your neighbor's substance; and honor thy father and thy mother, and fear God with all thy heart and with all they strength and will all thy soul. Thou hast no other beside him, and he is thy creator, and thy father's creator; besides Jesus thou hast no other god. And of the fruits of thy house give unto the poor; the first fruits of thy harvest bring to the house of the Lord thy God.
And while Paul was proclaiming this commandment and teaching thus, [there were] many moreover who believed and renounced this world and followed the commandment of the Lord, and they followed Paul. And a woman whose name was Pelagia, daughter of the king, heard, and she renounced her husband and followed the exhortation of Paul. And her husband heard, and he told the king. And the king met Paul and said to him, Behold thou art corrupting for us all our people, and all, when they hear thine admonition, renounce the world. The husband also renounces his wife, and the wife also renounces her husband. And now also thou shalt pay for everything which thou has done unto that Thekla [another version of the text has "Pelagia"]. And he commanded that they should cast Paul into prison; and they did as the king commanded.
And they set a lion in ambush for Paul in the theater, and they set in ambush the one whose height was twelve cubits, and his size that of a horse, the one that had met Paul, that Paul had made to enter among the mature Christians. And when they brought this lion and the king saw him, he marveled at his size, and said, Come now, we have found this day one that will devour Paul. And they brought Paul from the prison, and they brought him into the theater. And after Paul they brought the lion in to him. And it seemed to them that he would devour him, and they all said, But this day hath Paul met that which will punish him.
And Paul stretched forth his hands and prayed; the lion also prayed after him; and Paul worshiped and the lion also worshiped with him. And when they had finished glorifying and praying, Paul also turned and said to the lion, Well met! and the lion also said to Paul, Well met, our father, well met!
And Paul said to the lion, How [is it] that thou wast caught, who art so great? And the lion also said unto Paul, Thou also, behold thou wast caught, and they brought thee that I might devour thee. Did they not know that we were dear to one another? We are servants of our Lord. And after they had seen him talking with Paul, they all wondered and said, Great is the faith of this man; even the beast of the field obeys him, and people harken to him. And they said, Now take Pelagia, but let him go with his lion. And the lion and Paul departed.
And then they said, every one, There is a cow of brass; and kindle it, and let them cast her into it, or let her be obedient to her husband, and be like ordinary people. And they brought also the cow of brass, and they began to cast her into it. And at that moment there rained rain and extinguished it. But she wished to enter in. And when the husband saw her willingness to enter in, he took a sword and fell upon it on his face and died, because the beauty of Pelagia was wonderful, and she did not consider her beauty, and did not regard this passing world.
May her prayer be with our father John and prepare the portion of his habitations with the victorious martyrs. Amen
The St. Pachomius Orthodox Library,
Have mercy, O Lord, upon Thy servants the translator Edgar and the scribes James, Nigel, Paul,
Shelly, and William!
THE END, AND TO GOD BE THE GLORY!
From: email@example.com (Norman H Redington)
Subject: An Ancient Ge'ez Text
Date: 3 May 1995 08:29:20 GMT
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