Epistle to Diognetus

The Epistle of Mathetes to Diognetus[1](Greek: Πρὸς Διόγνητον Ἐπιστολή) is an example of Christian apologetics, writings defending Christianity from its accusers. The Greek writer and recipient are not otherwise known; estimates of dating based on the language and other textual evidence have ranged from AD 130[2] (which would make it one of the earliest examples of apologetic literature), to the late 2nd century, with the latter often preferred in modern scholarship.[3]

Author and audience

"Mathetes" is not a proper name; it simply means "a disciple." The writer may be a Johannine Christian, although the name "Jesus" and the expression the "Christ" are not present in the text. The author prefers, rather, to refer to the "son" as "the Word."[4]

Diognetus was the name of a tutor of the emperor Marcus Aurelius,[5] who admired him for his freedom from superstition and sound educational advice.[6] It is unlikely, however, that this is the "Diognetus" that the text has in mind.

Manuscripts

The Epistle survived only in one manuscript, which was located in Strasbourg and was destroyed in a fire during the Franco-Prussian War in 1870.[7] This manuscript was initially discovered in a 13th-century codex that included writings ascribed to Justin Martyr.[7] It had already been printed, the first time in 1592, when it was generally ascribed to Justin Martyr because of the context of its manuscript. In all copies, about two lines of the text are missing in the middle. The 13th-century manuscript was damaged in that place and the copies were made only after that damage had already been done. A number of transcriptions of this manuscript survive today.

Contents

The Epistle has twelve chapters:

  • Chapter I: Occasion of the Epistle.
  • Chapter II: The Vanity of Idols.
  • Chapter III: Superstitions of the Jews.
  • Chapter IV: The Other Observances of the Jews.
  • Chapter V: The Manners of the Christians.
  • Chapter VI: The Relation of Christians to the World.
  • Chapter VII: The Manifestation of Christ.
  • Chapter VIII: The Miserable State of Men Before the Coming of the Word.
  • Chapter IX: Why the Son Was Sent So Late.
  • Chapter X: The Blessings that Will Flow from Faith.
  • Chapter XI: These Things are Worthy to Be Known and Believed.
  • Chapter XII: The Importance of Knowledge to True Spiritual Life.

The 10th chapter breaks off in mid thought and so the last two chapters, a kind of peroration that abandons the (fictive?) epistolary formula, are often considered to be later additions as characteristically 3rd-century contentions appear in them: "This Word, Who was from the beginning...". Some have ascribed these additions to Hippolytus, based on similarities of thought and style. In the 11th chapter "Mathetes" presents himself as "having been a disciple of Apostles I come forward as a teacher of the Gentiles, ministering worthily to them" placing himself in a class with authoritative figures like John the Presbyter.

Literature

  • Crowe, Brandon D. "O Sweet Exchange! The Soteriological Significance of the Incarnation in the Epistle to Diognetus." Zeitschrift für die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft und die Kunde der älteren Kirche 102, no. 1 (2011): 96-109.
  • Foster, Paul. "The Epistle to Diognetus." Expository Times 118, no. 4 (2007): 162-168.
  • Jefford, Clayton N.: "The Epistle to Diognetus (with Fragments of Quadratus): Introduction, Text and Commentary. ed. by N. Brox, K. Niederwimmer, H. E. Lona, F. R. Prostmeier, and J. Ulrich. (Series: Oxford Academic Fathers). Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013. ISBN 978-0199212743
  • Lienhard, Joseph T. "Christology of the Epistle to Diognetus." Vigiliae Christianae 24, no. 4 (1970): 280-289.
  • Lona, Horacio E.: "An Diognet", Übersetzt und erklärt, ed. by N. Brox, K. Niederwimmer, H. E. Lona, F. R. Prostmeier, and J. Ulrich. (Series: Kommentar zu frühchristlichen Apologeten, KfA, Vol. 8). Verlag Herder: Freiburg u.a., 2001. ISBN 3-451-27679-8
  • Nielsen, Charles Merritt. "Epistle to Diognetus: Its Date and Relationship to Marcion." Anglican Theological Review 52, no. 2 (1970): 77-91.

References

  1. ^ The Epistle of Mathetes to Diognetus by Catholic Encyclopedia
  2. ^ Richardson, Cyril C. (1953), Early Christian Fathers, pp. 206–10.
  3. ^ Norris, Richard A Jr (2004), "The Apologists", in Young, Frances; Ayres, Lewis; Louth, Andrew (eds.), The Cambridge History of Early Christian Literature, p. 43.
  4. ^ "Diognetus", Early Christian Writings.
  5. ^ Schaff, "ANF", Christian Classics Ethereal Library, 1, III.i.
  6. ^ Antoninus, Marcus Aurelius, "Meditations", Classics, MIT, 1.6.
  7. ^ a b Foster, Paul (2007). "The Epistle to Diognetus". The Expository Times. 118: 162–168.

External links

Apostolic Fathers

The Apostolic Fathers were Christian theologians who lived in the 1st and 2nd centuries AD, who are believed to have personally known some of the Twelve Apostles, or to have been significantly influenced by them. Their writings, though popular in Early Christianity, were not included in the canon of the New Testament. Many of the writings derive from the same time period and geographical location as other works of early Christian literature which came to be part of the New Testament. Some of the writings found among the Apostolic Fathers appear to have been highly regarded as some of the writings which became the New Testament.

Aristides of Athens

Aristides the Athenian (also Saint Aristides or Marcianus Aristides; Greek: Ἀριστείδης Μαρκιανός) was a 2nd-century Christian Greek author who is primarily known as the author of the Apology of Aristides. His feast day is August 31 in Roman Catholicism and September 13 in Eastern Orthodoxy.

Catholic moral theology

Catholic moral theology is a major category of doctrine in the Catholic Church, equivalent to a religious ethics. Moral theology encompasses Roman Catholic social teaching, Catholic medical ethics, sexual ethics, and various doctrines on individual moral virtue and moral theory. It can be distinguished as dealing with "how one is to act", in contrast to dogmatic theology which proposes "what one is to believe".

Devotio Moderna

Devotio Moderna, or Modern Devotion, was a movement for religious reform, calling for apostolic renewal through the rediscovery of genuine pious practices such as humility, obedience, and simplicity of life. It began in the late fourteenth-century, largely through the work of Gerard Groote, and flourished in the Low Countries and Germany in the fifteenth century, but came to an end with the Protestant Reformation. It is most known today through its influence on Thomas à Kempis, the author of The Imitation of Christ, a book which proved highly influential for centuries.

Emmanuel Mounier

Emmanuel Mounier (; French: [munje]; 1 April 1905 – 22 March 1950) was a French philosopher, theologian, teacher and essayist.

Epistle

An epistle (; Greek: ἐπιστολή, epistolē, "letter") is a writing directed or sent to a person or group of people, usually an elegant and formal didactic letter. The epistle genre of letter-writing was common in ancient Egypt as part of the scribal-school writing curriculum. The letters in the New Testament from Apostles to Christians are usually referred to as epistles. Those traditionally attributed to Paul are known as Pauline epistles and the others as catholic (i.e., "general") epistles.

Jesus is Lord

"Jesus is Lord" (Greek: κύριος Ἰησοῦς, kyrios Iesous) is the shortest credal affirmation found in the New Testament, one of several slightly more elaborate variations.(Kelly:13) It serves as a statement of faith for the majority of Christians who regard Jesus as both fully man and God. It is the motto of the World Council of Churches.

Johann Baptist Metz

Johann Baptist Metz (born 5 August 1928) is a German Catholic theologian. He is Ordinary Professor of Fundamental Theology, Emeritus, at Westphalian Wilhelms University in Münster, Germany.

Joseph Maréchal

Joseph Maréchal (1 July 1878 – 11 December 1944) was a Belgian Jesuit priest, philosopher, theologian and psychologist. He taught at the Higher Institute of Philosophy of the University of Leuven and was the founder of the school of thought called transcendental Thomism, which attempted to merge the theological and philosophical thought of St. Thomas Aquinas with that of Immanuel Kant.

Lewis Radford

Lewis Bostock Radford (5 June 1869, Mansfield - 2 April 1937, London) was an Anglican bishop and author.Radford was the son of John Radford, a solicitor. He was educated in Mansfield and at St John's College, Cambridge, where he graduated BA in 1890 and MA in 1894. He was ordained in 1892 and his first position was as a curate at Holy Trinity, Warrington. He then held incumbencies at St Peter's Forncett and then Holt, Norfolk. After moving to Australia, he was the warden of St. Paul's College, Sydney before being elected as Bishop of Goulburn on 18 May 1915. He was consecrated a bishop on 24 August 1915, installed on 31 August 1915 and served until his retirement on 31 December 1933. His last position was as the Rector of Kemerton. He died on 2 April 1937. Radford College, a school in Canberra, is named after him.

List of Catholic philosophers and theologians

This is a list of Catholic philosophers and theologians whose Catholicism is important to their works. The names are ordered by date of birth in order to give a rough sense of influence between thinkers.

List of Christian apologetic works

This is a list of Christian apologetic works.

List of Church Fathers

The following is a list of Christian Church Fathers. Roman Catholics generally regard the Patristic period to have closed with the death of John of Damascus, a Doctor of the Church, in 749. However, Orthodox Christians believe that the Patristic period is ongoing. Therefore, the list is split into two tables.

Luigi Taparelli

Luigi Taparelli (born Prospero Taparelli d'Azeglio; 1793–1862) was an Italian Catholic scholar of the Society of Jesus who coined the term social justice.

Luis de Molina

Luis de Molina (; 29 September 1535, Cuenca, Spain – 12 October 1600, Madrid, Spain) was a Spanish Jesuit priest and scholastic, a staunch defender of free will in the controversy over human liberty and God's grace. His theology is known as Molinism.

Outline of theology

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to theology:

Theology is the critical study of the nature of the divine. It is taught as an academic discipline, typically in universities, seminaries and schools of divinity.

Peter Kreeft

Peter John Kreeft (; born 1937) is a professor of philosophy at Boston College and The King's College. He is the author of over a hundred books on Christian philosophy, theology and apologetics. He also formulated, together with Ronald K. Tacelli, "Twenty Arguments for the Existence of God".

Quadratus of Athens

Saint Quadratus of Athens (Greek: Άγιος Κοδράτος) is said to have been the first of the Christian apologists. He is counted among the Seventy Apostles in the tradition of the Eastern Churches.

According to Eusebius of Caesarea he is said to have been a disciple of the Apostles (auditor apostolorum).In his Ecclesiastical History, Book IV, chapter 3, Eusebius records that:

1. After Trajan had reigned for nineteen and a half years Ælius Adrian became his successor in the empire. To him Quadratus addressed a discourse containing an apology for our religion, because certain wicked men had attempted to trouble the Christians. The work is still in the hands of a great many of the brethren, as also in our own, and furnishes clear proofs of the man's understanding and of his apostolic orthodoxy.

2. He himself reveals the early date at which he lived in the following words: But the works of our Saviour were always present, for they were genuine:— those that were healed, and those that were raised from the dead, who were seen not only when they were healed and when they were raised, but were also always present; and not merely while the Saviour was on earth, but also after his death, they were alive for quite a while, so that some of them lived even to our day. Such then was Quadratus.

In other words, Eusebius is stating that Quadratus addressed a discourse to the Roman Emperor Hadrian containing a defense, or apology, of the Christian religion, when the latter was visiting Athens in AD 124 or 125, which Eusebius states incorrectly moved the emperor to issue a favourable edict. The mention that many of those healed or raised from the dead by Christ were still living seems to be part of an argument that Christ was no mere wonder-worker whose effects were transitory.

Eusebius later summarises a letter by Dionysius of Corinth which simply states that Quadratus was appointed Bishop of Athens 'after the martyrdom of Publius', and which states that 'through his zeal they [the Athenian Christians] were brought together again and their faith revived.P. Andriessen has suggested that Quadratus' Apology is the work known as Epistle to Diognetus, a suggestion Michael W. Holmes finds "intriguing". While admitting that Epistle to Diognetus does not contain the only quotation known from Quadratus' address, Holmes defends this identification by noting "there is a gap between 7.6 and 7.7 into which it would fit very well."Because of the similarity of name some scholars have concluded that Quadratus the Apologist is the same person as Quadratus, a prophet mentioned elsewhere by Eusebius (H. E., 3.37). The evidence, however, is too slight to be convincing. The later references to Quadratus in Jerome and the martyrologies are all based on Eusebius, or are arbitrary enlargements of his account.

Another apologist, Aristides, presented a similar work. Eusebius had copies of both essays. Because he was bishop of Athens after Publius, Quadratus is sometimes figured among the Apostolic Fathers. Eusebius called him a "man of understanding and of Apostolic faith." and Jerome in Viri illustrissimi intensified the apostolic connection, calling him "disciple of the apostles".

Scott Hahn

Scott W. Hahn (born October 28, 1957) is an American Roman Catholic theologian. A former Presbyterian who converted to Catholicism, Hahn's popular works include Rome Sweet Home and The Lamb's Supper: The Mass as Heaven on Earth. His lectures have been featured in multiple audio distributions through Lighthouse Catholic Media. Dr. Hahn is known for his research on early Christianity during the Apostolic Age and various theoretical works concerning the early Church Fathers.

Hahn presently teaches at the Franciscan University of Steubenville, a Catholic university in the United States. He has also lectured at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio. Hahn is married to Kimberly Hahn, who co-runs their Catholic apostolate, the Saint Paul Center for Biblical Theology.

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