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A Handbook of Patrology



  1. Lost Apologies - Aristides of Athens
  2. St. Justin Martyr
  3. Tatian
  4. Athenagoras
  5. Theophilus of Antioch
  6. The Letter to Diognetus
  7. Hermias
  8. Minucius Felix

The name Apologists is given to a group of writers—more especially of the second century—who aimed to defend the Christians from the accusations brought against them, to obtain for them tolerance under the civil laws, and to demonstrate to their persecutors that the Christian religion is the only true one.

Christianity had scarcely begun to spread in the Roman world, when it found itself beset with vexations and persecutions of all kinds. The principal accusation made against Christians was that of atheism (aqeothV). Contrary to the civil law, the Christians refused to adore the gods of the empire and practiced a religion not approved by the Roman Senate. In the eyes of the State, therefore, they were atheists, guilty of practicing a forbidden religion (religio illicita), and therefore enemies of the State and its fundamental institutions. To this charge were added base calumnies, which were soon circulated among the people and accepted even by a few eminent writers. One report was that, in their meetings, the Christians feasted upon the flesh of infants, previously slaughtered and then sprinkled with flour (Epulae Thyesteae); and were not ashamed of practicing such immoralities as the intercourse of Oedipus with his own mother. Intellectualists and politicians

[1] There exist two complete editions of the Greek apologists (except Aristides), that of D. Maran, reproduced in the Patrologia Graeca, VI; and that of J. C. Th. Otto, Corpus Apologetarum Christianorum Saeculi Secundi, Jena, 1847-1872. The five volumes devoted to St. Justin were published in a third edition in 1876-1881. The individual edition of each of the apologists will be pointed out under their name. See J. Martin, L'Apologetique Traditionnelle, Paris, 1905. L. Laguier, La Methode Apologetique des Peres dans les trois Premiers Siecles, Paris, 1905; J. Riviere, S. Justin et les Apologistes du Il' Siecle, Paris, 1907. A. Puech, Les Apologistes Grecs du Il' Siecle de Notre Ere, Paris, 1912.


accused them of indolence, i. e.; of shunning the world and business and taking no interest in the prosperity of the State, neglecting the affairs of this life for those of a future life. They were regarded as bad citizens and generally as a useless set of scoundrels.

The main effort of the Apologists was to refute these accusations and to show that Christianity had the right to exist. To attain this end, their work could not remain purely negative, but had to include a positive demonstration of the excellence and truth of the Christian religion. Such a demonstration necessarily involved them in an attack upon paganism, for a successful vindication of the superiority of Christianity demanded that a contrast be drawn between it and the State religion. The work of the Apologists, therefore, was not purely defensive; it was also controversial and expository.

The apologies were directed partly against the pagans and partly against the Jews. The former may be divided into three groups. Those of the first group take the form of requests or petitions addressed to the Emperor and to the Senate. The emperors of the Antonine dynasty were looked upon as just and moderate philosophers from whom philosophers like Justin and Athenagoras could hope to obtain a hearing. It is doubtful, however, whether or not these apologies addressed to the emperors were really brought to their notice. They were aimed at the public, though written in the form of open letters to the emperors. The apologies of the second class are addressed directly to the people. Such are, for example, the numerous Discourses to the Greeks of the second and third centuries. Lastly — and these form the third class,— a few apologies were addressed, at least primarily, to private individuals, e. g., the three books of Theophilus of Antioch to Autolycus and the Epistle to Diognetus.

Among the apologies against the Jews may be cited St. Justin's Dialogue with Trypho. In these apologies the expository and demonstrative character predominates. The Jews harbored many prejudices which had to be removed, and a spirit of hatred which had to be overcome; indeed, they were not the last to spread popular calumnies against the Christians and denounce them to the authorities. But in the writings addressed to them the Apologists are less intent on refuting their accusations than on convincing them


of the divine mission of Jesus Christ and the truth of His religion. Consequently, their purpose was to demonstrate the Messiahship of Our Lord and for this demonstration they use mostly the argument from the prophecies, their thorough knowledge of the Sacred Scriptures proving very useful for this purpose.

From a literary point of view, the writings of the Apologists are generally superior to those of the Apostolic Fathers. Several of their authors had been trained in the schools and had studied philosophy: they gloried in the fact that they still remained philosophers, even though they had embraced Christianity. This may easily be seen from the vigor of their thought and reasoning. It is betrayed also by certain peculiarities of style, which often remind us of the sophists (professional grammarians and rhetoricians). Moreover, a number of these writings, at least, are fairly extensive and touch on the most important questions of moral and dogmatic theology. They are the first attempts at scientific theology made in the Church.


We know of about twelve Apologists in the second century, but out of this number there are about five whose works have been entirely lost or from which we have only a few passages.

Among them is Quadratus (KodratoV),[1] whom certain critics have identified with the prophet of the same name spoken of by Eusebius.[2] He presented to the Emperor Hadrian (117-138) an apology which Eusebius had read and from which he quotes one sentence.[3]

To Aristo of Pella[4] we owe the first treatise against the Jews, written about 140, a Disputation between Jason and Papiscus concerning Christ. In this work, Jason, a Christian, with the help of the prophecies, proves against Papiscus, a Jew from Alexandria, that Jesus is the Son of God. This little work, defended by Origen against Celsus, was made use of (we know not to what extent) by later controversialists,

[1] See Otto, op. cit., ix, 333 ff.

[2] H. E., iii, 37, 1; v, 17, 2.

[3] H. E., iv, 3.

[4] Otto, op. cit., IX, 349 ff.


notably in the Altercatio Simonis Judaei et Theophili Christiani, brought to light by Evagrius.

Miltiades,[5] very probably from Asia Minor, wrote between 160 and 193. He composed three apologies, so Eusebius tells us,— one Against the Greeks, a second Against the Jews, and a third "To the Princes of this World, an apology of the philosophy he followed."[6] Nothing remains of these writings.

The same may be said of Apollinaris,[7] bishop of Hierapolis in Phrygia, who flourished in the time of Marcus Aurelius (161-180). We know through Eusebius that he was the author of an apology addressed to this emperor (probably in 172), five books Against the Greeks, two books On Truth, which appear also to be an apology, and two books Against the Jews.[8]

We may note, finally, the apology of Melito,[9] Bishop of Sardis, likewise addressed to Marcus Aurelius. Eusebius quotes three passages from it.[10] Melito is the author of another work, entitled On Truth,[11] also a defence of Christianity.

The Oratio Melitonis philosophi quae habita est coram Antonio Caesare has nothing to do with the Bishop of Sardis. Syriac seems to be the language in which this work was originally written. A recent opinion ascribes it to the Gnostic Bardesanes.

The earliest Apologist whose work we possess in its entirety, is Aristides,[12] a philosopher of Athens, whom Eusebius names immediately after Quadratus.[13] For a long time his apology was given up as lost, but it was found both in a Syriac version and in a revised Greek text of the legend of SS. Barlaam and Joasaph. We possess also a fragment in Armenian, but the Syriac text is the best of the three.

The contents of this apology are simple enough: the whole

[5] Otto, op. cit., ix, 364 ff.

[6] H. E., v, 17, 5.

[7] Otto, op. cit., IX 479 ff.

[8] H. E., iv, 26, i; 27.

[9] Otto, op. cit., ix, 374-478 and 497-512.

[10] H. E., IV, 26, 5-11.

[11] Ibid., 2.

[12] Editions by J. Rendel Harris et J. Aarmitage Robinson, The Apology of Aristides, in Texts and Studies, I, Cambridge, 2nd revised edition, 1893; R. Seeberg, Der Apologet Aristides, Erlangen, 1894; see M. Picard, L'Apologie d'Aristide, Paris, 1892.

[13] H. E., IV, 3. 3.


question of the differences between pagans and Christians is reducible to the knowledge of the true God. God exists, for the existence and order of the world prove it. He must be eternal, impassible, and perfect. Now if we examine the beliefs of the four classes of men that make up humanity,—the barbarians, the Greeks, the Jews, and the Christians,— we find that the last mentioned alone have the right conception of God and of the worship due Him. The barbarians have worshipped as gods the elements and famous men (iii-vii). The Greeks have created gods who were slaves to passion. The Jews have certainly known the true God, but they have worshipped Him in a childlike way and have worshipped the Angels more than Him (xiv). The Christians alone know Him and serve Him with a pure conscience by leading a life worthy of Him (xv-xvi). Consequently, cease to persecute the Christians and be converted to their religion.

This treatise, evidently the work of an energetic man who was convinced of what he said, was addressed about 140 to the Emperor Antoninus Pius (138-161).


One of the earliest and most eminent of the Apologists of the second century is St. Justin. Born between 100 and 110 of heathen parents at Flavia Neapolis—the modern Nablus and the ancient Sichem — he felt at an early age a strong attraction for philosophy. He has himself given us a sketch of his intellectual and moral development (Dial. i-viii); artificial details may be discerned here and there, but the substance is certainly true. He received lessons successively from a Stoic, a Peripatetic, and a Pythagorean, but none satisfied him. Platonism seemed to afford him some peace of mind; but a venerable old man, whose acquaintance he had made (probably at Ephesus), pointed out to him the insufficiency of philosophy and urged him to study the Scriptures and the teachings of Christ.

[1] Special edition of the two Apologies by L. Pautigny, Paris, 1904, and of the Dialogue with Tryphon by G. Archambault, Paris, 1009, in the Textes et documents. A. Bery, Saint Justin, sa vie et sa doctrine, Paris, 1901; M. J. Lagrange, Saint Justin (coll. Les Saints), Paris, 1914; L. Feder, Justins des Martyrers Lehre von Jesus Christus, Freiburg i. B., 1906.


Justin followed this advice and was converted about A. D., 130.

As a Christian, he continued to wear the philosopher's mantle, leading the life of a lay missionary, preaching the doctrine of Christ and defending it as the highest and safest philosophy. Twice he came to Rome, where he spent a considerable time and founded a school which was quite successful. In the same city, most probably, he held, with Crescens, the cynic, the disputations which he mentions in his Second Apology. It is supposed that Crescens denounced him and had him condemned, but there is nothing to prove this. Justin was beheaded in Rome with six other Christians, under Junius Rusticus, prefect of the city, between 163 and 167. We have the authentic acts of his martyrdom.[2]

St. Justin was always admired for the earnestness of his convictions, the nobility of his character, and the perfect loyalty of his dealings. He was an apostle and a saint in the true sense of the words, filled with an ardent desire to do good to those whom he addressed. His reputation as a writer is not so high. Critics generally agree that his composition is defective. Instead of keeping to the point, he makes useless digressions and does not always conclude the arguments he has begun. His manner is monotonous, heavy, and often incorrect. The earnestness of the writer and the warmth of the discussion alone at times impart to his style eclat and life. From a theological point of view, however, the writings of St. Justin are exceptionally valuable. Not only is he an undeniable witness of the important dogmas of the Incarnation and the Holy Eucharist, but he is the first who carefully studied the relations between faith and reason and who introduced the Greek categories and a philosophical terminology into his doctrinal expositions. In this he is a true pioneer.

We are acquainted with the titles of nine or ten of St. Justin's authentic works: Eusebius mentions the two Apologies, a Discourse against the Greeks, A Refutation against the Greeks, a writing known as De Monarchia Divina, another entitled The Psalter, a treatise On the Soul, written in the form of scholia, and the Dialogue with Trypho.

St. Justin, on his part, speaks of a Syntagma against all the

[2] Otto, Corpus Apologetarum, III, p. 336 ff.

[3] H. E., iv, 18.


Heresies (suntagma kata paswn twn gegenhmenwn),[4] which perhaps comprised the treatise Against Marcion, cited by St. Irenaeus.[5]

Apart from a few citations or fragments, only three of these works have reached us in a single manuscript, the Codex Parisinus 450, of the year 1364. They are the two Apologies and the Dialogue with Trypho.

The First Apology is addressed to Antoninus Pius, Marcus Aurelius, and Lucius Verus, to the Senate and the whole Roman people. Antoninus Pius reigned from 138 to 161, but a number of indications in the text of the address lead us to conclude that it was written between 150 and 155. To all appearances it was written in Rome.

The plan which the author followed in his composition is not easy to trace, but critics generally admit a twofold category of considerations and proofs.

The "proposition" occupies ch. i-iii. The Christians must not be condemned if they are innocent of the crimes laid to their charge. That they are innocent Justin proves in two ways.

1. By a direct refutation (iv-xiii). The Christians are not atheists, although they do not adore idols; neither are they immoral, or homicides, or enemies of the Empire. They are virtuous and peaceful citizens.

2. This refutation alone would suffice; but it does not satisfy Justin. Convinced that Christianity is persecuted only because it is misapprehended, he devotes most of the remaining chapters of his First Apology to explaining to the pagans the Christian religion in its moral teaching (xvi-xvii), in a few of its dogmas (xviii-xx), in its founder and its history (xxi-xxiii; xxx-lv), in its worship and the initiation of its adepts (lxi-lxvii). xxiv-xxix and lvi-lx form two parentheses, in which the author returns to a subject he had previously treated, or speaks of the counterfeits of Christianity set up by the demons. The conclusion is contained in lxviii: St. Justin again demands that Christians be not condemned without examination and without trial.[8]

[4] I Apol., xxvi, 8.

[5] Adv. Haer., iv, 6, 2.

[6] The present text of the Apology gives after the conclusion a copy of the rescript of Hadrian to Minucius Fundanus. This rescript seems to be authentic; but it may well be that it was not placed there by St. Justin himself, at least in the first draft of the Apology. See C. Callewaert, Le Rescrit d'Hadrien a Minucius Fundanus, in the Revue d'Histoire et de Litterature Religieuses, VIII (1903), p. 152-189.


The Second Apology is addressed to the Senate. It is much shorter than the first and must have been written very soon after the latter (c. 155, at the latest), although it is in nowise a mere continuation of it. It was written in Rome on the following occasion. A Christian woman had separated from her pagan husband, a debauche, who, to avenge himself, denounced her catechist, Ptolemaeus, who was put to death with two other Christians by order of Urbicus, prefect of Rome (144-160). Justin immediately protested. The main idea of this new treatise is the same as that of the First Apology. The Christians are not known; their doctrine is purer, nobler, and more complete than those of the philosophers; their conduct is free from reproach. The demons are responsible for the fact that they are persecuted. All these ideas are jumbled together. But in reading the Apology, we feel that the author is aroused and foresees his own martyrdom; he awaits it, but this does not prevent him from proclaiming loudly that he is a Christian.

The third work of St. Justin which we possess is the Dialogue with Trypho. In this book it is no longer a question of defending the Christians against their pagan persecutors; but to convince the Jews of the Messiahship of Jesus Christ and the truth of His religion. Trypho is a learned rabbi, with whom Justin is supposed to have had a lengthy dispute at Ephesus, about 132-135, of which dispute the Dialogue professes to be an exact reproduction. It cannot be said for certain whether the debate really took pace or whether St. Justin merely describes an imaginary bout, to set forth his ideas. It is evident, however, that the arguments and retorts were not exactly those which St. Justin gives. We find in them, summarily, the various positions taken by St. Justin and the proofs he makes use of in his controversy with the Jews.

The text of the Dialogue has reached us in an imperfect state. In ch. lxxiv, 3, a considerable fragment has been lost, unnoticed by the copyist of the manuscript. It very probably lacks also the dedication to a certain Marcus Pompeius,


who is not named till towards the end of the book (ch. cxli, 5).

According to St. Justin himself (lxxxv, 4), the disputation with Trypho lasted two days, and the Dialogue was accordingly divided into two parts. The transition between these two parts was made in the lost ch. lxxiv. This remark of the author, however, by no means gives us the logical division of the treatise, for on the second day Justin repeats a number of things he had said the day before. The absence of all order from his composition renders it as difficult to determine the logical division in the Dialogue as in the Apologies. All we can say is that, after describing his conversion in the introduction (i-viii), Justin develops three principal ideas: 1. the decline of the old Covenant and its precepts; 2. the identity of the Logos with the God who appeared in the Old Testament, spoke to the patriarchs and prophets and, last of all, became incarnate in the virgin Mary; and 3. the calling of the Gentiles as the true people of God. According to Otto, the first idea is developed in chs. x-xlvii; the second in chs. xlviii-cviii, and the third in chs. cix-cxiii. Other authors propose other divisions.

As we have said, the disputation with Trypho must have taken place—if it took place at all—at Ephesus[7] during the war of Bar-Cocheba in I32-I35.[8] However, the Dialogue itself, which reproduces the disputation, is subsequent to the first Apology.[8] Critics are generally agreed in placing the date of composition between 155-161. Where it was written is not known.

The Apologies and the Dialogue constitute the essential part of St. Justin's authentic works. Of somewhat less value are four fragments—the first of which is quite lengthy—concerning a treatise On the Resurrection ascribed to Justin by Procopius of Gaza and St. John Damascene.[10] Whatever may be said concerning the authenticity of this treatise, it is certainly very ancient, since Methodius of Olympus seems to allude to it at the end of the third century. Harnack places it between the years 150 and 180.

We must regard as spurious three treatises, bearing titles

[7] Eusebius, H. E., iv, 18, 6.

[8] Dial., i, 3.

[9] Dial., cxx, 6.

[10] Text in Otto, III, or better in K. Holl, Fragmente vornican. Kirchenvater, Leipzig, 1889 (T. U., xx).


identical with, or similar to, the titles of treatises of Justin, mentioned by Eusebius and falsely attributed to the Saint. These are the Oratio ad Gentes, the Cohortatio ad Gentiles, and the De Monarchia.[11] The Oratio and perhaps also the De Monarchia belong to the second century; the Cohortatio to the second half of the third.

The six treatises which follow in the complete editions of St. Justin[12] have still less right to be there. The Epistula ad Zenam et Serenum is an exhortation addressed, it seems, to monks and ascetics. According to a conjecture of Batiffol, it was written by Sisinnius,[13] the Novatian bishop of Constantinople (c. 400). The other five—Expositio Rectae Fidei,[14] Confutatio Dogmatum Quornndam . . ., Responsiones ad Orthodoxos . . ., Quaestlones Christianorum . . ., and Quaestiones Centllium—have been ascribed by Harnack to Diodorus of Tarsus (d. 391-392). According to Funk, the Expositio belongs to the fifth century and the Responsiones should be ascribed to Theodoret. It seems certain that the three or four last treatises are the work of one and the same author.

3. TATIAN[1]

Tatian was born of heathen parents, probably in 120, in Assyria, i. e., in the country situated beyond the river Tigris. He received a Greek education, studied history, rhetoric and philosophy, and became a sophist, travelling from city to city to deliver his speeches and give his lessons in ethics. He studied many different religions and was initiated into several mystery cults, but nowhere found satisfaction. It was in reading the Scriptures that he found the light he was seeking, and so became a Christian.[2]

His conversion occurred probably in Rome. Almost immediately he became a "hearer" and disciple of St. Justin

[11] In Otto, III.

[12] Otto, IV, V. For the Responsiones, special and better edition by Papadopulos Kerameus, 1895.

[13] Revue Biblique, V (1896), 114-122.

[14] We have two recensions: the longest is the original.

[1] Special edition of the Discourse to the Greeks by E. Schwartz, Leipzig, 1888 (T. U., IV, 1). See A. Puech, Recherches sur Ie Discours aux Grecs de Tatien, Paris, 1903 (with a French translation). For the Diatesseron, Cf. infra.

[2] Or. 29.


and, like him, was pursued by Crescens,[3] c. 155-160. Eusebius tells us that Tatian opened a school in Rome and that Rhodon was one of his disciples.[4] It is not known whether this took place before or after the death of St. Justin. In either case, Tatian did not remain faithful to the teaching of his master: he abandoned the Church in the twelfth year of Marcus Aurelius. Eusebius and St. Epiphanius say that he founded the sect of the Encratites. According to Irenaeus he denied that Adam was saved, condemned marriage as fornication, and believed in a series of eons.

Tatian had probably left Rome by this time. He withdrew into Mesopotamia, the land of his birth, and there spent the last days of his life. We do not know the date of his death.

A comparison has often been drawn between the character and disposition of Tatian and that of Tertullian. This comparison is justified because, although Tatian has not the genius of Tertullian, they are both excessive, violent, and fond of paradox. Instead of trying to conciliate his opponents in order to win them over, Tatian repulses them by invective and sarcasm. He can find no good in them: Greek art is immoral, Greek literature childish, Greek philosophy false, the Greek language neither pure nor uniform. From beginning to end his is an apology of the clenched fist. Each line betrays arrogance and bitterness.

From a literary point of view, the Apology of Tatian— the only work of his that is entirely preserved—is extremely obscure and difficult to interpret. This obscurity is due partly, no doubt, to the imperfect condition of the text, but partly also to the author's style. Tatian had been a sophist and retained the affected style of a sophist, seeking for new figures and sensational phrases. This does not prevent him from sometimes being careless and trivial. Although he loses sight of his subject less often than St. Justin, he allows himself to drift into digressions, which interrupt the trend of his discourse. What we most admire in him is the brilliance, the sincerity, and the enthusiasm of the controversialist. "Tatian," concludes Puech, " . . . sometimes offends by his negligence, sometimes by his affectation, but it would be too severe a judgment to call him a barbarian; ... he is a pretentious but able writer."

We know from Tatian himself that he composed a work

[3] Or. 19.

[4] H. E., v, 13, i, 8.


On Animals or On Living Beings (peri zwwn),[5] and perhaps another in which he treated of the nature of demons.[6] He intended to write "Against Those who have Treated of Divine Things," i. e., against the pagan theologians.[7] Rhodon, a disciple of Tatian, mentions a "Book of Problems,"[8] probably a collection of obscure passages in the Scriptures. Clement of Alexandria refers to a work of Tatian "On Perfection according to the Precepts of the Savior," which forbids marriage.[9] The only two writings of Tatian we can read to-day are the Discourse to the Greeks (LogoV proV 'EllhnaV), preserved entire, and the Diatessaron, which has been partly reconstructed.

The Discourse was not composed at Rome, but more likely at Antioch, for the author addresses native Greeks, and not merely Greek-speaking persons.[10] It was probably written after the death of St. Justin,[11] but before the author's break with the Church, c. 172-173. The date of its composition must be placed between 165 and i73.[12] It was evidently intended for wide circulation.

The work is divided into three parts: (1) an introduction (1-4) in which Tatian begs the Greeks not to deal too rigorously with the barbarians (i. e., Christians), who are in fact superior to them; (2) an exposition of the principal Christian teachings (5-30) concerning the Logos, the Resurrection, the Angels and demons, the soul, the spirit, the world, etc., compared with the religious and philosophical teachings of the Greeks and in particular with their mythology: the superiority of the former is more than evident; (3) a chronological discussion (31-41). Not only is the Christian doctrine superior to the pagan teachings; it is more ancient. Moses lived 400 years before the Trojan War celebrated by Homer,— lived even before the sages who preceded this poet. Chs. 33 and 34 contain what is called the Catalogue of Statues. It is an enumeration of the Greek sculptures Tatian had seen in Rome,— interesting for the history of art. In a short conclusion the Apologist

[5] Or. 15.

[6] Or. 16.

[7] Or. 40.

[8] Eusebius, H. E., v, 13, 8.

[9] Strom., iii, 12.

[10] Or., 35.

[11] Cf. Or., 18.

[12] According to Puech, c. 171.


reaffirms his faith and his intention to persevere in it.

Tatian's other work, of which only fragments remain, is the Diatessaron[13] (To dia tessawn euaggelion). It is a Gospel-harmony compiled from the four Gospels with the texts arranged in such a way as to give a chronological exposition of the life and teachings of Christ. This work was originally written in Syriac and must be assigned to a date subsequent to Tatian's return to the East (c. 172). Up to the fifth century it was very popular throughout the Christian churches of Syria, which adopted it for their liturgical services. It is quoted by Aphraates and commented upon by St. Ephraem.

We have not the complete text, but it has been possible partly to reconstruct it by means of an Armenian translation of St. Ephraem's commentary and with the help of a later revision of the Gospel-harmony in Arabic, and of another in Latin, both of which have preserved the plan of composition of the original Diatessaron.


Athenagoras is mentioned neither by Eusebius nor by St. Jerome, and we know very little about him. He was an Athenian philosopher, though perhaps not born in Athens. According to a sketch in the Christian History of Philip of Side, who wrote c. 430, he was at first a heathen, and became a Christian by reading the Scriptures. Perhaps he lived for a time in Alexandria.

We can get an idea of his character and methods from what writings of his have come down to us. He is a philosopher in every sense of the term. His primary object is to instruct and to demonstrate. Whilst Justin is an apostle, and Tatian a polemist, Athenagoras is a professor who discourses according to all the rules of grammar and

[13] Th. Zahn, Tatian's Diatessaron, Erlangen, 1881; Id., Geschichte des neutestam. Kanons, Erlangen, 1888, I and II; P. A. Ciasca, Tatiani Evangeliorum Harmoniae arabice, Romae, 1888. E. Ranke, Codex Fuldensis Nov. Testam. latine Interprets Hieronymo; Marpurgi, 1868. See J. F. Stenning, article "Diatessaron" in Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible, Extra volume, p. 451.

[1] Special edition by E. Schwartz, Leipzig, 1888 (T. U., iv, 2); Freppel, Les Apologistes Chretiens au Il' Siecle, 2nd series, 3rd edit., Paris, 1888; L. Arnould, De Apologia Athenagorae, Paris, 1898; L. Chaudouard, Etude sur le Peri anastasewV d'Athcnagore, Lyons, 1908.


logic. His composition is as lucid and orderly as that of Justin and Tatian is loose and careless. He never for a moment strays from his subject; he makes no display of rhetoric or figurative language. In all his writings we meet with forcible reasoning and a powerful style, so concise that it borders at times on dryness, truly the style of a philosopher. Strange to say, this convinced Christian, in writing against the pagans on the resurrection of bodies, draws no proof for this dogma from revelation and the Scriptures.

We have two of Athenagoras' works: an apology and a treatise On the Resurrection of Bodies.

1. The apology is entitled Supplication for the Christians (peri cristianwn). It was addressed to the Emperors Marcus Aurelius Antoninus and Lucius Aurelius Commodus. The titles given to Marcus Aurelius and to Commodus, as well as the reference, in the first chapter, to the profound peace then prevailing, enable us to fix the date of the composition of this work between December A. D. 176, and the first months of 178. The work was undoubtedly written at Athens.

The arrangement of ideas is most lucid. After soliciting the attention of the Emperors, Athenagoras enumerates the three chief accusations current against the Christians: atheism, immorality and anthropophagy (1-3). He refutes these three calumnies successively. The Christians are not atheists: they adore one God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. It is true they do not offer any bloody sacrifices, nor do they worship the pagan gods; but the true God has no need of such crude sacrifices, and the gods of paganism are no gods at all, but men who have been deified (4-30).

The second accusation, that of immorality, is equally without foundation. Christians profess belief in the torments of hell; they condemn even the thought of evil. The pagans themselves commit the atrocities of which they accuse the Christians (31-34).

With regard to the Thyestean banquets, Christians are in no way guilty of such crimes, but hate homicide, avoid the gladiatorial fights, condemn the exposure of children, and believe in the resurrection of bodies (35-36).

He concludes with an appeal to the justice and clemency of the Emperors (37).

2. In ch. 36 of his apology, Athenagoras promised a discussion


of the doctrine of the resurrection. This work must have followed very closely upon the former, and was perhaps written in 178 or 179. Certain details in chs. 1, 19, 23, and the order of ideas followed still more rigorously than in the apology, favor the opinion that it was a lecture or conference, first delivered orally and later circulated in written form.

The lecture is divided into two parts: (l) a refutation of the objections brought against the possibility of the resur- rection (1-10), and (2) a demonstration of it as a fact (11-25). In the first part the author proves that there is nothing in the resurrection of bodies above the power of God and contrary to His attributes. In the second he emphasizes more especially the unity of the human person, concluding that the eternal life and happiness, which are the end of man, are for his body as much as for his soul, and that the body which participates in the good and bad actions of the soul, must be punished or rewarded with it. This cannot take place without the resurrection.


Theophilus came from that part of Syria which borders on Mesopotamia. He was born a pagan and was converted to Christianity by meditating on the Scriptures. Towards the year 169, he succeeded Cornelius as bishop of Antioch. Eusebius places the end of his episcopate in 177; most probably it lasted until 182 or 183, for the books To. Autolycus were not completed until after the death of Marcus Aurelius (Mar. 17, 180).

Theophilus received a Greek education and seems to have had some knowledge of Hebrew. He is inferior to Justin and Athenagoras in depth of philosophical thought, but surpasses them in extent and variety of literary culture. His style is lively, imaginative, and original; his diction, elegant and ornate. He was well read, but his reading had not stifled personal reflection and judgment.

Besides the Apology to Aulolycus, which we shall examine presently, Theophilus wrote a work, in at least two books, upon the origin of mankind according to the Bible and mythology (cf. Ad Autolyc., ii, 28, 30, 31, iii, 3, 19).

[1] Text in Otto, Corp. Apolog., VIII. See Freppel, Les Apologistes Chretiens au Il' siecle, 2nd series, Paris, 3rd edit., 1888.


Eusebius mentions other writings of his,—a work against the heresy of Hermogenes, another against Marcion, and a few books for the instruction and edification of the faithful.[2] St. Jerome mentions a Commentary on the Book of Proverbs and Commentaries on the Gospel.[3] Of all these works, there remain but the fragments of the Commentaries cited by St. Jerome.

We have in full, however, the three books To Autolycus. Autolycus was a learned heathen, who seems to have been a magistrate. The three Discourses (logoi) addressed to him by Theophilus are not, properly speaking, parts of the same work, but three distinct treatises which have been joined together. This was done because there is a real connection among them: they are addressed to the same person and deal with almost the same topics.

The first book contains fourteen chapters and was written apropos of a conversation with Autolycus, who had asked Theophilus to show him his God, had praised the gods of paganism and scoffed at the name of Christian. Theophilus treats of the nature of the true God, who is invisible to the eyes of the body, but whose existence is known to us, and whom we shall contemplate as He is when we shall be clothed in incorruptibility. He denounces the gods of paganism and extols the Christians.

The second book contains thirty-eight chapters. It reverts to the thoughts previously expressed in order to develop them more fully. In the first part (2-8) the author exposes the insufficiency and childishness of the pagan teachings. In the second part (9-38) he contrasts these teachings with those of Holy Scripture concerning the origin of the world, the worship due to God, and the moral life man should lead.

The third book contains thirty chapters and is an answer to an objection of Autolycus. "Your religion," he says, "is new, and your Scriptures are recent writings." The first fifteen chapters show the futility of the accusations brought against Christians concerning immorality and anthropophagy. In ch. 16 he takes up the chronological discussion and gives a resume of Jewish history. He concludes that Moses must have lived from 900 to 1000 years before the Trojan War. He counts 5695 years from the beginning of the world to the death of Marcus Aurelius.

[2] H.E., iv, 24.

[3] Vir. ill., 25.


From the fact that the author ends his calculation with Aurelius' death we conclude that the third book to Autolycus was written in the first years of the reign of the Emperor Commodus (c. 180-182). As the three books followed very closely upon one another, we may assume that the entire work was written approximately between 178 and 182.


Not a single ancient writer mentions the Letter to Diognetus. The only manuscript which contained it — destroyed in 1870 — attributed it to St. Justin, but the letter is certainly not from his pen. As we lack all evidence from other extrinsic sources, we can only make more or less probable conjectures concerning its authorship. The epistolary form given to this small work may be only a literary fiction.

We are limited to conjectures based on internal evidence. The letter comprises ten chapters.[2] Diognetus had asked the author why the Christians neither adore the pagan gods nor practice the Jewish worship, what life they lead and why Christianity appeared so late in the world. The author answers these questions in due order. 1. The Christians do not adore the gods of the heathen because these gods are nothing more than wood, stone, or metal. 2. Neither do they imitate the worship of the Jews, because, although this worship is rendered to God, it is childish and unworthy of Him. 3. There follows an ideal description of the Christian way of living. The Christians are to the world what the soul is to the body,— a superior and life-giving principle (5-7). 4. That Christianity has appeared so late, is because God wished to make men conscious of their weakness and corruption before sending them the Redeemer (8-9). The conclusion is an exhortation to conversion (10).

The Letter to Diognetus is one of the most perfect literary compositions handed down to us from ancient Christian times. The author is as sympathetic and well-meaning

[1] Text in Otto, Corp. Apolog., III, and in Funk, Patres Apostolici. See H. Doulcet, L'Apologie d'Aristide et l'Epitre a Diognete, in the Revue des Quest. Histor., xxviii (1880), 601-612. L. Radford, The Epistle to Diognetus, London, 1908.

[2] Chapters 11 and 12 do not belong to the letter. Certain critics see in them a fragment of some work of St. Hippolytus.


meaning as St. Justin, but he is a better writer. With soundness of doctrine and loftiness of thought he combines the gift of developing his ideas in a clear, harmonious, and progressive manner and of putting into his exposition force and life without breaking the thread of his theme. He was evidently a man of breadth and culture.

The Letter belongs to a period after the first and before the fourth century; this is sufficiently proved by the mention the author makes of present persecutions (5, 6). Renan, Zahn, and Harnack would place it in the third century; Kihn, Kruger, and Bardenhewer, in the second. The last-named author takes this view because Christianity is represented in the Letter as a recent foundation and depicted in its first fervor.


The Mockery of Heathen Philosophers (DiasurgoV twn ezw filosofwn) by Hermias, the philosopher, in 10 chapters, is entirely different from the Letter to Diognetus. The author wishes to show that the heathen philosophers are not in agreement, nay hold contradictory opinions concerning the nature of the soul (1-2) and the first principle of all things (3-10). He proves this by placing under the reader's eye the principal philosophers and their schools of thought, calling attention to the solutions they have given to the above problems.

This treatise is very superficial and all but worthless. It is not an apology, but a light and bantering satire (diasurgoV) that is of no value since the philosophical systems ridiculed by the author are neither studied nor criticized.

We do not know who Hermias was. The author and his work are never mentioned by ancient writers. A few critics (Diels, Wendland, Harnack) assign the composition to the fifth or sixth century, when paganism was no longer popular. Bardenhewer places it in the third century, on the ground that Hermias seems to know nothing of Neo-Platonism.

[1] Text in Otto, ix. Special edit. by W. F. Menzel, Leyden, 1840. See Di Pauli, Die Irrisio des Hermias, Paderborn, 1907.



One of the best apologies of the period from the second to the third century, and one of the most ancient productions of Latin Christian literature, is the Octavius of Minucius Felix.

The Octavius is a dialogue divided into four parts.

1. It opens with an introduction (1-4) in which the characters appear upon the scene. The author, who calls himself Marcus, wishes to tell how his friend Octavius succeeded in winning over to Christianity the pagan Caecilius Natalis. One day these three were enjoying a walk by the sea, near Ostia, when they passed before a statue of Serapis. Caecilius salutes the statue and the act starts a discussion of the religious question. They determine to thresh out the question thoroughly, and Marcus is constituted arbiter of the controversy between Caecilius and Octavius.

2. The second part (5-13) is taken up almost entirely by a speech of Caecilius. In this speech we may distinguish three leading ideas:

a) A philosophical development. Truth is inaccessible: we know nothing about the gods, who, at any rate, are little concerned with men. Hence, in matters of religion it is wiser to follow the laws of one's own country.

b) An attack upon Christianity. The Christians do not follow these laws: they form a secret society, immoral and criminal, the enemy of all mankind. Moreover, their worship is absurd, since they adore a crucified man.

c) Conclusion. Away with all religious innovations: let things remain as they are.

3. In the third part (14-38) Octavius closely follows the arguments of his opponent and refutes them one by one. We can know God: reason proves the existence of one God and of a Providence. Polytheism originated from a suggestion of the demons; they are the ones who spread against the Christians the calumnies mentioned by Caecilius. The Christians are pure in all their ways; their beliefs and their worship are reasonable and, in spite of persecutions, they

[1] Many editions: the most complete is that of J. P. Waltzing, Louvain, 1903, with French translation and commentary. French translation by F. Record, Paris, 1911. See P. de Felice, Etude sur l'Octavius de Min. Felix, Blois, 1880; Gaston Boissier, La Fin du Paganisme, Paris, 1891, tome I; P. Monceaux, Hist. Litter. de l'Afrique Chretienne, I, Paris, 1901.


find in the testimony of a good conscience a peace and happiness no one can take away. Things must not be allowed to remain as they are: "Cohibeatur superstitio, impietas expietur, vera religio reservetur."

4. The fourth part (39-41) is the conclusion: Caecilius admits his defeat and becomes a Christian.

Critics are of one accord in declaring the Octavius to be the masterpiece of an able writer who, though possessed of very few original ideas, treated his subject in classic literary form. The dialogue has artistic freshness and beauty; the life and emotion that pervade it are never expressed in terms that are too violent. It is evidently modelled on Cicero's De Natura Deorum and De Divinations, as well as on Seneca's De Providentia and De Superstitions. The author wished to offer to educated pagans a defence of Christianity that would be acceptable to them, clothed as it was in a literary form which they relished. Hence his care to set aside in this exposition of the Christian religion everything mysterious or obscure for human reason and to bring into bold relief instead the lofty spiritual and moral teaching of the new faith.

The author of the Octavius calls himself, as we have already said, Marcus (3, 5). Lactantius and St. Jerome give us his full name, Marcus Minucius Felix. He was a distinguished lawyer, probably of African extraction, who lived in Rome and who, in his later years, passed from Stoicism to Christianity (1). The hero of the dialogue, Octavius Janu- arius, was also a convert, but he was dead when the book was written (1). As to his pagan friend, Caecilius Natalis, he too lived in Rome, although he seems to have come from Cirta (9,31). An inscription has been found there relating to a certain Marcus Caecilius Quinti films Quirina Natalis, who was a triumvir under Caracalla (211-217).

The Octavius was certainly written after the year 175, because Fronto, who is spoken of as being dead or, at least, as a very old man (9, 31), died shortly after 175. A more precise dating of the composition would depend upon the opinion adopted concerning the relations of the Octavius with the Apologeticum of Tertullian. It is certain that one of the two authors knew and borrowed from the other. The Apologeticum dates from the year 197, and if its author made use of the Octavius, the latter must be placed between 175-197. If, on the contrary, the author of the Octavius


used the Apologeticum, the former work must be posterior to 197 and must be placed at the end of the second or in the first half of the third century. This question is one of those upon which most critics are divided. Muralt, Ebert, Schwenke, and others uphold the priority of the Octavius; Massebieau, Harnack, and Monceaux, that of the Apologeticum. According to the latter group, the Octavius must be placed between 197 and 250.

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