Eusebius writes of adoptionist corruptions by Theodotus - Asclepiades , Hermophilus , and Apollonides - Little Labyrinth - Artemon

Steven Avery


In saying this I am not slandering them, as anybody who wishes can soon find out. if anyone will take the trouble to collect their several copies and compare them, he will discover frequent divergencies; for example, Asclepiades’ copies do not agree with Theodotus’. A large number are obtainable, thanks to the emulous energy with which disciples copied the ‘emendations’ or rather perversions of the text by their respective masters. Nor do these agree with Hermophilus’ copies. As for Apolloniades, his cannot even be harmonized with each other; it is possible to collate the ones which his disciples made first with those that have undergone further manipulation, and to find endless discrepancies. The impertinence of this misconduct can hardly be unknown even to the copyists. Either they do not believe that the inspired Scriptures were spoken by the Holy Spirit - if so, they are unbelievers; or they imagine that they are wiser than He - if so, can they be other than possessed? They cannot deny that the impertinence is their own, seeing that the copies are in their own handwriting, that they did not receive the Scriptures in such a condition from their first teachers, and that they cannot produce any originals to justify their copies. Some of them have not even deigned to falsify the text, but have simply repudiated both Law and Prophets, and so under cover of a wicked, godless teaching have plunged into the lowest depths of destruction.

Orthodox Corruption

Theodotus and His Followers

In external appearance, the Roman adoptionists of the second and early third century do not seem at all like the Ebionites. They claimed no Jewish roots; they did not follow the Torah, nor practice circumcision, nor revere Jerusalem. But in other respects they appear strikingly similar: Theodotus and his followers believed that Jesus was completely and only human, born of the sexual union of his parents,30 a man who, on account of his superior righteousness, came to be adopted as the Son of God at his baptism. They also maintained that their views were apostolic, advocated by the disciples of Jesus and transmitted through true believers down to their own day.31

The patristic sources provide a relatively sparse testimony to the views of Theodotus the Cobbler, which is somewhat surprising given his distinction as the “first” to claim that Christ was a “mere man” (Greek), Eusebius, Hist. Eccl. V, 28). Of his two principal disciples, Theodotus the Banker and Artemon, little more is known than that they perpetuated their leader’s heresy with intellectual rigor and, as a result, were evidently separated from the Roman church. As might be expected, later heresiological sources supply additional anecdotal material, resting more on pious imagination than on solid evidence.32

The earliest accounts are provided by Hippolytus and the so-called Little Labyrinth—three anonymous fragments preserved by Eusebius that are often ascribed, perhaps wrongly, to Hippolytus.33 Both sources are contemporaneous with their opponents, and despite their differences, provide a basic sketch that coheres with later portrayals.34 Theodotus the Cobbler came to Rome from Byzantium in the days of Pope Victor (189-198 C.E.). He claimed that Christ was not himself divine, but was a “mere man.”35 Because Jesus was more pious than all others, at his baptism he became empowered by the Holy Spirit to perform a divine mission. According to the report of Hippolytus, Theodotus denied that this empowerment actually elevated Jesus to the level of divinity, although some of his followers claimed that Jesus did become divine in some sense, either at his baptism or at his resurrection. The Little Labyrinth reports that Theodotus’s followers insisted that the view of Jesus as fully human but not divine was the majority opinion in the Roman church until the time of Victor’s successor Zephyrinus, who “mutilated the truth.” The author of the fragment argues quite to the contrary that the belief in Jesus’ full divinity is attested both in Scripture and in a wide range of ancient Christian authors, naming in support Justin, Miltiades, Tatian, Clement, Irenaeus, and Melito. Moreover, the author insists that Victor himself had excommunicated Theodotus for his heretical views, a claim that became standard heresiological fare in later times.

The Little Labyrinth also attacks Theodotus s followers for their adoptionistic views, although, as one might expect, it provides some evidence that their theology developed over time. In particular it denounces these trouble-makers for preferring secular learning (syllogisms and geometry) to the rule of faith, and secular scholars (Aristotle, Theophrastus, and Gaien) to Christ. Furthermore, as we have seen, it accuses them of corrupting their texts of Scripture in order to make them conform to their own views.36

Need footnotes p. 313 ..
also check 101-102

Lost Christianities
Bart Ehrman

The Theodotians as Corruptors of Scripture (2006)
Bart Ehrman

4 pages online .. last 2 not

Marcion of Pontus proved to be a favorite target of the charge, in view of his conscientious decision to expunge portions of the Pauline epistles and of the Gospel according to Luke when these did not coincide with his theological system8.

8 As to whether his ‘Gospel' was in every respect the same as the canonical Luke even prior to the application of his penknife, see now David Salter Williams. ‘Reconsidering Marcion's Gospel'. JBL 108 (1989). 477-496.
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Steven Avery

Little Labyrinth
Theodotus and Artemon

Eusebius, EH.5.26-28: Orthodox Writers & the Artemon Heresy of Theodotus the Cobbler (2019-12)
Jeffrey Riddle

Chapter 28 begins with a discussion of a treatise written by one of the anonymous orthodox writers against the heresy of Artemon, which consisted of a denial of the deity of Christ. Eusebius notes that this heresy was being revived in his day by Paul of Samosata.

This heresy made a historical argument against orthodoxy, saying that Christ deity only began to be taught during the Roman bishopric of Zephyrinus, who followed Victor.

Eusebius points out that this argument is faulty since the apostles and the earliest Christian authors (including Justin, Clement, Irenaeus, and Melito) all affirmed Christ’s deity.

The founder of this movement is identified as Theodotus the cobbler, who was excommunicated by Victor.

Several other anecdotes from the anti-Artemon treatise are shared, including an account of a man named Natalius who was deceived by the disciples of Theodotus the cobbler. This Natalius was seduced to become a “bishop” in this sect when offered a large salary, but he was warned against this sect in visions and even scourged all night long by holy angels, until he repented before Zephyrinus and was restored.

The same treatise notes how those in this sect were not afraid “to corrupt the divine Scriptures.” They apparently tried to use Greek learning, even the geometry of Euclid, and Greek philosophy to “correct” Scripture.

An evidence of their error was that they could not produce”originals [antigrapha] from which they had made their copies [metagrapho].”
One of the marks of their error was that their teachings did not agree with one another.