Otherwise known as: Andrew According to Tradition
Eusebius reports that Andrew’s area of work was Scythia,1 which is north of the Black Sea in part of modern-day Russia. It is because of this tradition that the Roman Catholic Church lists him as the patron saint of Russia. An early Christian writing titled “The Martyrdom of Andrew” records that he was stoned to death while working in this area. 2
The Acts of Andrew and Matthias in the City of Man-Eaters3
This ancient work describes Matthias as a prisoner in an Ethiopian4 city of cannibals, who is then rescued by Andrew, but then they are both captured until Andrew causes a statue to gush acidic water throughout the city, killing cattle and children, and causing the adults of the city to writhe in pain as their skin was being eaten into by the acid that was now up to their necks. When the people finally began to pray to the “God of the stranger [Andrew],” Andrew told the statue to “Stop the water, for they have repented.”5
The Acts and Martyrdom of the Holy Apostle Andrew
Another ancient work entitled “Acts and Martyrdom of the Holy Apostle Andrew,”6 supposed to have been written by the “bishops and deacons of the churches of Achaia,”7 records a conversation between Aegates, the proconsul, and Andrew which came about because Aegeates’ wife would not follow the pagan gods after hearing Andrew’s preaching. After proclaiming the “mystery of the cross,” and telling the proconsul that the only way he could learn the truth was to “take the form of a disciple,” Aegeates threw Andrew into prison. This only served to make the Christians incredibly angry, for they came together from the whole province with the mission of killing Aegeates and freeing Andrew. The apostle, however, calmed them down and they left. The next day, Aegeates brought him back and commanded him to offer a “libation” offering to the gods, since it was Andrew’s fault that “not even one city has remained in which their temples have not been forsaken and deserted.” After Andrew called him “O son of death, and chaff made ready for eternal burnings,” the proconsul, enraged, said “[I]f thou wilt not hearken to me, I shall cause thee to perish on the tree of the cross.”
According to this work, the command was given “that he should be bound hand and foot, as if he were stretched on the rack, and not pierced with nails, that he might not die soon, but be tormented with long-continuing torture.”8 But Andrew wasn’t tortured; instead smiling and happy, he preached to nearly 20,000 people who gathered around to hear from him for four days. On the fourth day, many came to Aegeates and demanded that Andrew be released, and through fear of the mob, the proconsul went to free him. However, Andrew prayed that he not be released, and the arms of those who tried to release him from the cross were numbed until finally, after a bright light shone on him from heaven for half an hour, Andrew gave up the ghost.
Tradition holds that this cross was turned to resemble an “X,” and has for centuries been known as “St. Andrew’s Cross.”9
One final note of interest comes from the Muratorian Fragment. This early writing (some date it as early as AD 170) is one of the primary sources for the study of which books belong in the New Testament.10 It says:
The fourth Gospel [was written by] John, one of the disciples. When his fellow-disciples and bishops urgently pressed him, he said, “Fast with me today, for three days, and let us tell one another any revelation which may be made to us, either for or against [the plan of writing].” On the same night it was revealed to Andrew, one of the Apostles, that John should relate all in his own name, and that all should review [his writing].11
-Bradley S. Cobb
1 Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, Book 3, Chapter 1, Paragraph 1.
2 International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, “Andrew” (II. In Apocryphal Literature).
3 “The oldest MS. Has Matthias; the four or five others have Matthew” (footnote 1, Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 8, page 517).
4 See Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 8, page 356.
5 Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 8, pages 517-526.
6 Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 8, pages 511-516.
7 Achaia is the southern half of Greece, including the cities of Corinth and Athens.
8 The Bodleian Manuscript of this work includes the words quoted. It appears as a footnote in the Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 8, page 513.
9 Holman Bible Dictionary: “Andrew”
10 Practically all books dealing with the issue of canonicity will mention this document. However, it must be noted that the only surviving copy of it is a 7th-century Latin translation. The early date is suggested due to some historical references as being recent to the author.
11 This quotation was given in James Hastings’ Dictionary of Christ in the Gospels, “Andrew.”