Abdias of Babylon
An apocryphal writer, said to have been one of the seventy-two
Disciples of Christ, and first Bishop of Babylon, consecrated by Sts. Simon and Jude. Very little is
known about him, and the main reason for mentioning him is a work in ten books called Historia Certaminis Apostolici which is imputed to him. It tells of the labours and deaths of the Apostles.
This compilation purports to have been translated from Hebrew into Greek by Eutropius, a disciple
of Abdias, and, in the third century, from Greek into Latin by (Julius) Africanus, the friend of
Origen. But it is really a Latin work, for in it are cited, with the Vulgate of St. Jerome, the
Ecclesiastical History of Rufinus and his Latin translation of the "Recognitiones" of Clement. The
interest of the work is due to what the author claims to have drawn from the ancient Acta of the
Apostles, and to many ancient legends which have thus been brought down to us. The text of
the pseudo-Abdias may be found in Fabricius, Codex Apocryphus Novi Testimenti (Hamburg, 1700),
402-742, though there are parallel texts of single books printed in the Acta Sanctorum. According
to R.A. Lipsius, the work was compiled during the latter half of the sixth century, in some
Frankish monastery, for the purpose of satisfying the natural curiosity of Western Christians. At
the same time he used much older pseudo-Apostolic materials that he abridged or excerpted to suit
his purpose, and often revised or expurgated in the sense of Catholic teaching, for not a few of the
writings that he used were originally Gnostic compositions, and abounded in speeches and prayers
destined to spread that heresy.
BATIFFOL, in Dict. de la Bible, 24; LIPSIUS, Die Apokryphen Apostelgeschichten (Brunswick, 1883), 1, 177-178;
BATIFFOL, in Dict. de th ol. cath., I, 23; LIPSIUS, in Dict. of Christ. Biogr., I, 1-4.
JOHN J. A'BECKET
The 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia