, or Abgarus, a name given to several of the kings of Edessa in Syria, one of whom is said to have written a letter to our Saviour, and to have received an answer, and at the same time an handkerchief, on which was impressed the portrait of Jesus Christ Eusebius is the first who has reported this story, which has generally obtained more belief from Protestant than from Popish writers. Father Simon and M. du p in pronounce the letters to be forgeries, while Dr. Parser, in his “Demonstration of the Law of Nature and the Christian Religion,” Dr. Cave, in his Literary History, and Dr. Grabe, in his “Spicilegium Patrum,” and others, are inclined to think them genuine. Dr. Lardner, however, in his “Testimonies of ancient Heathen Authors,” argues with much force of reasoning against their authenticity. The letters being short, are inserted here as curiosities. “The copy of the letter which was written by Abgarus the toparch to Jesus, and sent to him at Jerusalem by the courier Ananias:

“Abgarus, toparch of Edessa, to Jesus the good saviour, who has appeared at Jerusalem, sendeth greeting. I have heard of thee, and of thy cures, performed without herbs, | or other medicines. For it is reported that thou makest the blind to see, and the iame to walk; that thou cleansest lepers, and easiest out unclean spirits and demons, and healest those who are tormented with diseases of a long standing, and raisest the dead. Having heard of all these things concerning thee, I conclude in my mind one of these two things either that thou art God come down from heaven to do these things, or else thou art the Son of God, and so performest them. Wherefore I now write unto thee, entreating thee to come to me, and to heal my distemper. Moreover, I hear that the Jews murmur against thee, and plot to do thee mischief. I have a city, small indeed, but neat, which may suffice for us both.”

“The rescript of Jesus to the toparch Abgarus, sent by the courier Ananias:

“Abgarus, thou art happy, forasmuch as thou hast believed in me, though thou hast not seen me. For it is written concerning me, that they who have seen me should not believe in me, that they who have not seen me might believe and live. As for what thou hast written to me, desiring me to come to thee, it is necessary that all those things, for which I am sent, should be fulfilled by me here; and that, after fulfilling them, I should be received up to him that sent me. When, therefore, I shall be received up, I will send to thee some one of my disciples, that he may heal thy distemper, and give life to thee, and to those who are with thee.”

The disciple, thus sent, was Thaddeus, one of the seventy, according to Eusebius’ account, which Lardrier allows, may have been procured by that historian from the archives of the city of Edessa. But it is not, perhaps, necessary to dwell longer on the authenticity of what is now so generally given up by ecclesiastical writers. Before Lardner’s time, an ample confutation appeared in the General Dictionary, including Bayle, art. Abgarus; and Mr. Jones, in the second volume of “A new and full method of settling the canonical authority of the New Testament,” discussed the question with much learning and judgment. Mosheim seems to be of opinion that, although the letters are spurious, there is no reason of sufficient weight to destroy the credibility of Abgarus having applied to our Saviour for his assistance. 1


Gen. Dict.—Mosheim’s Eccl. Hist.—Lardner’s Works, vol. VII. 222, with the references in these works.