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that the actual number of martyrs was larger. The later martyrologies record forty-nine names of those who perished, though some of the names seem to refer to the same person.9 The number of Christians in both communities was certainly larger, though, again, as Eusebius mentions that the letter contained a list ofthe names of those who survived (HE 5.5.3), the overall number could not have been too extensive. The Christian communities in the cities of Vienne and Lyons were not, therefore, too large to be counted, but they were big enough to survive such a pogrom, and, as we have seen, while predominantly of eastern background, as were their leaders, they were made up of a wide cross-section of society.

Personalities and events

Of the figures mentioned in the letter, we know nothing else. However, more is known of Irenaeus, its probable author.10 Although he had come from the east, and preferred Greek, the language in which he wrote, as he was living, he says, among the 'Celts', he had become 'accustomed for the most part to use a barbarous dialect', thus excusing, in a typically rhetorical flourish, the lack of beauty or persuasiveness of style in his own writings.11 Irenaeus' main literary monument is his five books entitled Detection and refutation of gnosis falsely so-called, usually known simply by the Latin title Adversus haereses (Against the heresies'). Book 3 of this work mentions Eleutherus as the current bishop of Rome (Haer. 3.3.3), and so it can be dated to the period between 174 and 189. The only other extant work of Irenaeus, rediscovered at the beginning of the twentieth century in an Armenian manuscript, is his Epideixis tou apostolikou kerygmatos ('Demonstration of the apostolic preaching'), a short summary work presenting the apostolic preaching by citing passages from the scriptures (the Law, the Psalms and the prophets). Although chapter 98 of the Epideixis refers the reader to the Adversus haereses, it is probable, given the more primitive use of the apostolic writings in the Epideixis and a particularity in the Armenian text at this point, that the final chapters are a later addition and that the Epideixis is in fact the earlier work.12 Jerome (c.342-420) is the first to refer to Irenaeus as 'bishop of Lyons and martyr' (In Esaiam 17), though it is possible that this is a later scribal error, for Jerome does not refer to him as a martyr elsewhere.

9 Cf. Quentin, 'La liste des martyrs de Lyon'; Nautin, Lettres, 49-50.

12 Cf. Irenaeus, On the Apostolic Preaching, Behr (trans.), 3, 16 and 118 n. 229.

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