Literature, Sub-Apostolic, 2


V. Papias Fragments.

1. Author and Date:

Papias is called by his younger contemporary Irenaeus (v.33) a "disciple of John and friend of Polycarp." Eusebius writes (Historia Ecclesiastica, III, 36) that he was episkopos of Hierapolis in Phrygia. The Chronicon Paschale (7th century, but embodying materials from older documents) states that he was martyred about the same time as Polycarp (155-56). His work, Exposition of our Lord's Sayings, was extant in the 13th century, but only fragments quoted by Irenaeus, Eusebius, etc., remain. These bear out the twofold description of Papias by Eusebius, as a "man of little judgment" yet "most learned and well acquainted with the Scriptures" (Historia Ecclesiastica, III, 39, 36). (But the words of praise in verse 36 may be a gloss.) Papias states that he subjoins to his expositions "whatsoever I learned carefully from the elders and treasured up in my memory .... I was wont to put questions regarding the words of the elders (i.e. presumably men of an earlier generation), what Andrew or Peter said, or what Philip or Thomas, or James, or what John or Matthew, or any other of the Lord's disciples said, as well as regarding what Aristion, and the presbyter John, the disciple of the Lord, have to say."

It is disputed whether Papias here refers to two Johns, the apostle and another disciple of the same name; or to John the apostle in two different relations, i.e. first as one about whose testimony Papias heard from others, and second, as one with whom, also, he held personal communication. In favor of the first view is,

(1) Eusebius' own opinion (in the place cited);

(2) the alleged unlikelihood of the same John being twice mentioned in one sentence;

(3) a statement by Eusebius (Historia Ecclesiastica, III, 39) that in his day two monuments (mnemata) of "John" existed at Ephesus.

For the latter view is,

(1) no other writer until Eusebius hints the existence of a presbyter John distinct from the apostle;

(2) the change in the quotation from "said" to "say" seems to give a reason for John being twice mentioned; some things stated by John having been heard by Papias through "elders," others having been told him by the apostle himself.

The fact that John is called presbyter, instead of apostle, is no insuperable objection, since John so designates himself in 2 John and 3 John; and Jerome denies that the two mnemata were both tombs. See Lightfoot, Essay on Papias, and Nicol, Four Gospels, 187 if, who come to divergent conclusions.

2. Testimony to Matthew and Mark:

On the testimony to Matthew and Mark see MATTHEW, THE GOSPEL OF; MARK, THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO.

3. Other Notabilia:

(1) According to Eusebius, Papias relates the story of "a woman accused before our Lord"--the story, presumably, which eventually crept into John 8; so that to him, in part, is due the preservation of a narrative, which, whether historical or not, finely illustrates the union in our Lord of holy purity and merciful charity.

(2) Papias is quoted by the Chronicler Georgius Hamartolos (in a manuscript of the 9th century) as declaring in his Expositon that John "was put to death by the Jews," and a similar quotation is made by Philip of Side (Epitome manuscript of the 7th-8th centuries). On the bearing of this upon the question of the apostle's residence at Ephesus see JOHN, THE APOSTLE.

(3) Irenaeus (v.32) quotes Papias as writing about a Post-resurrection millennium, and as reporting, on John's authority, how the Lord said, "The days will come when vines shall grow having each 10,000 branches, and on each branch 10,000 twigs, and on each twig 10,000 shoots," etc. This may be an exaggerated record (misunderstood by Papias) of some parabolic utterance of Christ, indicating prophetically the wonderful extension of the church.

VI. Epistle of Barnabas.

1. Authorship:

This book is first expressly quoted by Clement of Alexandria (circa 190 AD) as the composition of Barnabas, companion of Paul (Strom., ii.6). Origen concurs, and calls it a "Catholic ep." (Con. Celsum, i.63), thus suggesting canonical position; Eusebius (Historia Ecclesiastica, III, 25) testifies to the widespread ascription of it to this Barnabas, although he himself regards it as "spurious." Codex Sinaiticus places it immediately after the New Testament, as being read in churches, and thus suggests its composition by a companion at least of apostles. Against this external testimony, however, to authorship by the Barnabas of Acts, is strong internal evidence:

(1) apostolic sinfulness prior to discipleship is spoken of in exaggerated terms hardly credible in a writer who knew the Twelve--"exceedingly lawless beyond all (ordinary) sin" (chapter v)--an echo apparently of Paul's "sinners of whom I am chief";

(2) ignorance of Jewish rites incomprehensible in a Levite who had lived in Jerusalem, e.g. the priests are said to eat goat's flesh on the great Day of Atonement;

(3) extreme anti-Judaism (see below), inconsistent with the representation of Barnabas in Ac and Galatians.

The writer may have been some other Barnabas, a converted Alexandrian Jew, or, more probably, a converted Gentileproselyte, trained in Philo's school, but ignorant of Jewish rites as practiced at Jerusalem, and possessing little real sympathy with Judaism.

2. Date:

The epistle must be dated after 70 AD, as the destruction of Jerusalem is referred to (chapter xvi); also after the publication of the Gospel of Jn, of which there are several reminiscences. But the absence of any reference to the rebuilding of Jerusalem under Hadrian, in 120 AD, in a passage (chapter xvi) where such allusion might have been expected, suggests a date prior to that year. We may place the writing between 90 and 120 AD.

3. Object and Contents:

The object is to deter both Jewish and Gentile Christians from Judaistic lapse by a bold application of the allegorizing method to the Old Testament, far beyond what Philo would have sanctioned. Jewish sacrifices, festivals, Sabbath enactments, temple-worship, distinction of clean and unclean food, are not only not of perpetual obligation, but never were binding at all, even on Jews. Belief in their obligatoriness rests on a slavishly liberal exegesis of the Old Testament, which, properly interpreted, is not a preparation for Christ but Christianity itself in allegorical disguise.

Ceremonies are simply allegorical enforcements of spiritual worship; distinctions of clean and unclean are merely pictorial representations of the necessity of separation from vice and vicious men; interdict of swine's flesh means no more than "associate not with swinish men." The only circumcision really commanded by God is circumcision of the heart. Barnabas ignores what Paul realized, that Jewish laws and rites, even literally interpreted, are a Divine discipline of wholesome self-restraint, neighborly consideration and obedience to God. Barnabas not only explains away Old Testament enactments, but finds in trivial Old Testament statements Christian fact and truth. Thus, in Abraham's circumcision of the 318 men of his house, the 10 and 8 are significantly denoted by the Greek letters "I" and "H", the initial letters of Iesous (Jesus); while the 300 represented by the Greek "T", points to the cross. The writer self-complacently intimates that "no one has been admitted by me to a more genuine piece of knowledge than this!" (chapter ix).

When Barnabas, however, leaves obscure allegory for plain exhortation, he writes effectively of the "two ways" of light and darkness. Among edifying admonitions the following are outstanding:

"Thou shalt not go to prayer with an evil conscience"; "Thou shalt not let the word of God issue from lips stained with impurity"; "Be not ready to stretch forth thine hands to take, while thou contractest them to give"; "Thou shalt not issue orders with bitterness to thy servant, lest thou fail in reverence to God who is above you both"; "Thou shalt not make a schism, but shalt bring together them who contend"; "The way of darkness is crooked"; "In this way are (among others mentioned) those who labor not to aid him who is overdone with toil" (chapters xix, xx).

4. Notabilia:

(1) The Divinity of Christ is emphasized:

"Lord of all the world"; "Joint Creator, with the Father, of mankind" (chapter v). (2) The writer, while following the Alexandrian method of allegorical interpretation, is free from the Alexandrian doctrine of the essential evil of matter; the necessity of a real incarnation is affirmed (chapter v). (3) In chapter xi, he writes, "We go down into the water full of sins and filth, and come up bearing fruit in our heart, having the fear of God and trust in Jesus in our spirit." This has been interpreted as involving the doctrine of baptismal regeneration; but the reference may be rather to the regeneration which baptism symbolizes. (4) In chapter xv, the words, "We keep the 8th day with joy, the day on which Jesus rose again," are the earliest express testimony that the observance of the Lord's Day was a memorial of our Lord's resurrection. This observance is distinguished from Jewish Sabbath-keeping which is called an error; the Sabbath really intended to be kept being a period of 1,000 years after the 6,000 years in which all things will be finished (chapter xv). (5) Testimony to New Testament Books,

(a) the existence and canonical authority of the Gospel of Mt are attested (chapter iv) by the quotation of Matthew 22:14, "Many are called, but few chosen," introduced by the formula, "It is written";

(b) various passages taken together testify to the writer having the Gospel of John in his hands:

"Whoso eateth of these shall live for ever" (chapter xi and John 6:58); "Abraham looking before in Spirit to Jesus" (chapter ix and John 8:58); "the new law of our Lord Jesus Christ" (chapter ii and John 13:34); a reference to the brazen serpent as a type of Christ's suffering, glory and healing power (chapter xii and John 3:14);

(c) "Thou shalt not say that anything is thine own" (chapter xix) appears to be a reminiscence of Acts 4:32; (d) the passage in xv, "The day of the Lord shall be as a thousand years," seems to be an echo of 2 Peter 3:8, and, if so, is the earliest testimony to the existence of that writing, and thus proves its great antiquity, although not its canonicity.

VII. Pastor (Shepherd) of Hermas.

1. Authorship and Date:

This work is the earliest example, on a large scale, of Christian allegory, and was hardly less popular in the early church than the Pilgrim's Progress in later times. It was reckoned by many almost, by some altogether, as "Scripture." Irenaeus quotes it as "Scripture" (iv.20); Clement of Alexandria refers to it as "containing revelations Divinely imparted" (Strom., i.29); Origen regards it as "Divinely inspired" (Commentary on Romans 16:14). It is placed with the Epistle of Barnabas in the Codex Sinaiticus at the close of the New Testament, and was read in many churches down to Jerome's time (Works, II, 846). The writer represents himself as a slave sold to a Roman Christian lady. He afterward obtained freedom, lived with his family in Rome, became earnestly religious, and saw visions which he imparted the community in this book with a view to repentance and spiritual well-being.

Origen (followed by Eusebius, Jerome, etc.) ascribes the work to the Hermes of Romans 16:14; but his opinion is pure conjecture (puto). The Canon Muratori (170 AD) of Italian authorship describes the work as "recently composed at Rome by the brother of Plus during the latter's episcopate" (137-54). This distinct local testimony has been widely accepted (Hefele, Lightfoot, Charteris, Cruttwell, etc.). Yet the writer represents himself (Vision, ii.4) as enjoined to send his book to Clement as man in authority in the church, whom it is natural to identify with the chief presbyter of Rome between 92 and 101. This reference, along with the absence of any allusion to Gnosticism or to the mono-episcopate, has led Schaff, Zahn, and others to fix the date of the work at about 100 AD. The external and internal evidence, thus apparently divergent, may be reconciled by supposing (with Kruger and Harnack) that the book was not "written in a single draft"; that portions were issued successively during Clement's episcopate; and that under Plus (circa 140) the separate issues were gathered into a volume under the title of The Pastor. In Rome, where the author was known, the Canon Muratori attested at once its religious usefulness as a "book to be read" and the absence of any claim to canonical authority.

2. Object and Contents:

The purpose of the book is not doctrinal but ethical; it is an allegorical manual of Christian duty with earnest calls to individual repentance and church revival in view of the near Advent.

The book consists of

(1) Five Visions,

(2) Twelve Mandates,

(3) Ten Similitudes or Parables.

In (1) the church appears' to the writer as a venerable matron, then as a tower near completion, thereafter as a Holy Virgin. In the last vision, the Angel of Repentance, in pastoral garb, delivers to him the Mandates and Similitudes. The Mandates deal with chastity, truth, patience, meekness, reverence, prayer, penitence, and warn against grieving the Spirit. In the similitudes the church is again a tower whose stones are examined for approbation or reprobation. Similitudes are also drawn from trees. The vine clinging to the elm signifies union of rich and poor in the church; a large willow from which a multitude receive branches or twigs, some of these blossoming or fruit-bearing, others dry or rotten, symbolizes the diverse effect of law and gospel on different souls. The author, although a Gentile, writes from the standpoint of James rather than of Paul. The closing words summarize his combined ethical and eschatological purpose:

"Ye who have received good from the Lord, do good works, lest while ye delay, the tower be completed, and you be rejected."

3. Notabilia:

(1) Montanistic Affinity.

Hermas, indeed, differs from Montanists in permitting, though not encouraging, second marriage, and recognizing one possible repentance after post-baptismal flagrant sin; but he is also their fore-runner, through his disallowance of readmission after second lapse, through emphatic expectation of an impending Advent, and through his rigorous view of fasting:

"On the fast day taste nothing but bread and water."

(2) Fasting, However, Is Regarded Not as an End but as a Means

A discipline toward humility, purity, charity. Fasting for charity is illustrated by the injunction (Sim., v.3) to "reckon up the price of what you meant to eat, and give that to one in want."

(3) Absence of Names "Jesus" and "Christ."

The names" Jesus and "Christ" never occur. He is "Son of God" and "Lord of His people," whom "God made to dwell in flesh," by whom "the whole world is sustained," who "endured great sufferings that He might do away with the sins of His people" (Sim., .v.6; ix. 14).

(4) Church Organization.

Hermas is charged (Via., ii.4) to "read his writings to (or along with) the presbyters who preside over the church" in Rome. It is reasonable to conclude that no one in that community could then be called "bishop" in the later sense of the holder of an office distinct from and superior to the presbyterate. Episkopoi ("bishops") are mentioned (Sim., ix.27) as "given to hospitality," the description of the episkopos in 1 Timothy 3:2, where admittedly bishop = presbyter.

VIII. Second Epistle of Clement.

1. Nature of Document:

This writing is doubly miscalled:

it is neither an epistle nor a composition of Clement. Style, thought, and standpoint differ from those of the accepted Ep., and HE, III, 38, suggests that the Clementine authorship was not generally recognized. The recent recovery by Bryennios of the previously lost conclusion proves that the writing is a sermon (chapter xix).

Antiquity is indicated by (1) the use, as an authority, of the lost heretical Gospel of the Egyptians, which by the time of the Canon Muratori (175 AD) had ceased to be regarded as Scripture by Catholics; (2) the adoption, without Gnostic intention, of phrases which became notably associated, after 150 AD with Gnosticism:

"God made male and female: the male is Christ, the female, the church" (chapter xiv).

2. Date and Authorship:

The date usually assigned is 120-150 AD (Lightfoot, Part I, volume II, 201). The author is a Gentilepresbyter; he had "worshipped stocks and stones." The sermon was probably preached at Corinth, for the preacher describes many arriving by sea for the race-course, without mentioning a port, which would be appropriate in a sermon preached to Corinthians.

3. Contents:

No text is given, but the sermon starts from Isaiah 54:1, without express quotation; this chapter had probably been read at the service. The discourse, without great literary merit, is earnest and practical. There are exhortations to repentance and good works, to purity, charity, prayer and fasting, with special reference to coming judgment. The standpoint is that of James. "Be not troubled (so the sermon concludes) because we see the unrighteous with abundance, and God's servants in straits. Let us have faith, brethren and sisters. Had God recompensed the righteous speedily, we should have had training not in piety but in bargaining; and our uprightness would be a mere semblance, since our pursuit would be not of godliness but of gain."

4. Notabilia:

(1) The sermon is the oldest extant in post-New Testament times, and appears to have been read (chapter xix) to a congregation.

(2) Sayings of Christ not in our Gospels are quoted:

(a) "The Lord, being asked when His kingdom would come, answered:

When the two shall be one (i.e. when harmony shall prevail?), and when the outside shall be as the inside (i.e. when men shall be as they seem?); and the male with the female, neither male nor female" (interpreted by this preacher ascetically as discountenancing marriage, presumably because "the time is short," but explained mystically by Clement of Alexandria in Strom., iii.13, as indicating the abolition of all distinctions in God's kingdom). Clement assigns the passage to the lost Gospel of the Egyptians.

(b) "The Lord saith, ye shall be as lambs among wolves. Peter answered:

What if the wolves tear the lambs? Jesus said: Let not the lambs fear the wolves: and ye, also, fear not them which kill you, and can do nothing more to you."

(3) No episcopate, apparently, in the post-New Testament sense, existed in the church where this sermon was delivered. Unfaithful men are represented as confessing, "We obeyed not the presbyters when they told us of salvation." Had a bishop in the later sense been head of the community, obedience to his admonitions would surely have been inculcated.

(4) The Christology is high; "We ought to think of Christ as of God"; "When we think mean things of Christ, we expect to receive mean things" (chapter i).

IX. Apology of Aristides.

1. Recovery and Date:

Aristides was an Athenian philosopher, who (according to HE, IV, 3) presented an Apology to Hadrian, presumably when the emperor was at Athens (125 AD). After disappearance in the 17th century, a fragment in an Armenian version was discovered in 1878, and the entire Apology in Syriac was found in 1889. It was then found that almost the whole treatise was imbedded anonymously in a Greek medieval romance, Barlaam and Josaphat. The Apology in the Syriac is inscribed to Antoninus; it may have been addressed to both emperors successively, or the real date may be 137, when they were colleagues in the empire.

2. Contents:

The treatise refers to oppression, imprisonment, and other maltreatment endured by Christians, and pleads for their protection against persecution, because of their true and noble creed, and their pure and benevolent lives. The writer compares the Christian doctrine of Godhead with that of barbarians, Greeks, Egyptians, Jews, and dwells on the elevating influence of Christian belief in Jesus Christ and in a future life. He refers to the abstention of Christians from unchastity, dishonesty and other vices; to their abounding charity and brotherliness which are shown particularly to the widow, the orphan, the poor, the stranger, the oppressed, and even their oppressors. All who become Christians, of however low a station, are brethren. This bright picture has, however, its shadows:

"If Christians see that one of their number has died in his sins, over him they weep bitterly as over one about to go into punishment." This frank acknowledgment of some black sheep gives point to his general testimony, "Blessed is the race of Christians above all men."

3 Notabilia:

(1) A distinct reference to a collection of Christian writings, and especially of Gospels, designated the Gospel, and indicating the existence of a kind of rudimentary New Testament Canon.

(2) Similar indication of a rudimentary Apostles' Creed. Christians are said to believe in God, "the Maker of Heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ who was born of a Hebrew virgin, who was transfixed by the Jews; he died and was buried; and Christians state that after three days he rose again and ascended into heaven." In this early time the virgin birth was apparently a settled matter--part of the Creed.

(3) Aristides describes a familiar custom among poor Christians of fasting two or three days, so as to supply with needful food Christians poorer still (Compare Hermas).

(4) The Apology is interesting as the earliest known literary tribute of a philosopher to Christianity, and probably the earliest extant defense of the faith, if the Epistle to Diognetus be not ancient. It is notable also as a treatise on Christian evidence drawn not from miraculous credentials, but from the self-evidencing excellence and effect of Christianity.

Finally, it is interesting as the earliest detailed record of harvest reaped at Athens from seed sown by Paul 80 or 90 years before. Athens appeared at first a barren soil; but by and by this church in a university city took the lead, as this treatise and another lost apology by Quadratus show, in the literary defense of the Christian faith. Quadratus is stated in HE IV, 3, to have presented his Apology to Hadrian, and is described by Jerome as "a disciple of the apostles." In a fragment preserved in HE, he attests the survival ("to our own day") of some whom Christ had healed.

X. Justin Martyr.

1. Incidents of Life:

Born of pagan parents at Flavia Neapolis (Nablous), in Samaria about 100 AD--a seeker for truth, who, after trying Stoic, Peripatetic, Pythagorean and Platonic philosophies, found in Christ and Christianity the satisfaction of philosophic cravings and spiritual needs. He became a Christian apostle and apologist, wearing still the philosopher's mantle in token of continued quest after wisdom, but making it now his life-work, not as presbyter, but as itinerating Christian teacher, to impart to pagan, to Jew and also to heretic the truth which he himself had found and prized. After long Christian service, he suffered martyrdom under Aurelius in 166 AD.

2. First Apology:

It is addressed to Antoninus and dated 138-48. He approaches the emperor without flattery, and asks judgment after searching inquiry. He answers three charges against Christians:

(1) atheism:

Justin replies that Christians were atheists only as Socrates was; they disbelieved in so-called gods who were wicked demons or humanly fashioned images; but they worshipped the Father of Righteousness;

(2) immorality:

Justin admits the existence of pretended Christians who are evil-doers; but Christianity makes the evil good, the licentious chaste, the covetous generous, the revengeful forgiving;

(3) disloyalty:

this is calumny based on the preaching of Christ's kingdom which is spiritual, not temporal.

Christians are taught and are wont to pay tribute promptly and to pray for rulers regularly. Justin then sets forth the credibility and excellence of Christianity, adducing,

(1) its pure morality as contrasted with vices condoned by heathens,

(2) its noble doctrines--immortality, resurrection, future judgment, incarnation,

(3) Old Testament prophecy regarding the Divinity and sufferings of the Christ. His reference to the prediction of a virgin bringing forth Emmanuel (chapter xxxiii) shows that in his day the virgin birth was accepted, although Jews understood by virgin (in Isaiah) merely a young woman,

(4) foreshadowings of Christian truth by philosophy, referring especially to Plato's teaching about the Divine Logos and judgment to come.

To refute prevalent calumny Justin describes Sunday service and administration of sacraments in his time. On the Lord's Day Christians assembled for worship; prophetic Scriptures and "memoirs" by apostles and their followers were read; prayers and thanksgivings were offered and an address delivered by the "president"; bread and wine were distributed and sent by deacons to those absent; and an offering for charitable purposes was made. "As many as believe what is taught, and undertake to live accordingly, are, after prayer and fast, baptized" (chapters lxv, lxvii).

3. Second Apology:

This is probably a postscript to the first; Eusebius quotes from both as from one work. After a protest against a recent summary execution of three Christians without proper trial, Justin deals with two popular taunts:

(1) "If at death they went to heaven, why did they not commit suicide?":

"We do not shrink from death but from opposing God's will."

(2) "If God is really on the Christians' side, why does He allow them to be persecuted?":

"The world by Divine decree is meanwhile under the dominion of angels who have become demons." Justin here contrasts Christ with Socrates, whom yet he describes as a preacher of the "true but then unknown God" (chapter x): "No one put such faith in Socrates as to die for his convictions." Christ hath won the faith, "not only of philosophers, but of simple folk who through faith can despise death." Justin, however, testifies clearly and warmly to the Christian element by anticipation, in the higher teachings and aspirations of heathen philosophy through an implanted seed of the Divine Logos; and he recognizes thus a pre-advent ministry of the Son of God, not only in the sheltered fold of Judaism, but in the broad open of heathendom.

4. Dialogue with Trypho the Jew:

This Dialogue indicates the attitude of some cultured Jews of that day to Christianity, and the mode in which their objections to it were met. Trypho argued that Jesus did not fulfill Old Testament prophecy which represented the Messiah as establishing a glorious and everlasting kingdom; whereas Jesus was a humble peasant who died an ignominious death; Justin pleads Isaiah 53. Trypho charges Christianity with treason to theocracy through exalting Jesus to Godhead, thus trenching on the Divine unity, and also through repudiating the perpetual obligation of the Law. Justin, in reply, quotes Genesis, "Let us make man," and also Psalms 45, 72, 110, with Isaiah 7 about Emmanuel. The Mosaic Law was intended to be temporary, and was now superseded by the Law of Christ; moreover, the destruction of Jerusalem rendered complete fulfillment of the Jewish Law impracticable. The disputants part on friendly terms, "I have been particularly pleased with this conference," says Trypho. "If we could confer oftener we should be much helped in reading the Scriptures." "For my part," replies Justin, "I would have wished to repeat our conference daily; but since I am about to set sail, I bid you give all diligence in this struggle after salvation." Of other works ascribed to Justin, two (On the Resurrection and Appeal to the Greeks) may or may not be genuine; the others are spurious.

5. Notabilia:

(1) Justin's Quotations:

Bearing of Justin's quotations from "memoirs" on the Age of Our Gospels (see GOSPELS).

(2) Testimony to Harmony of Apostolic Doctrine.

Justin is a disciple of Paul, and a strong anti-Judaist; yet he recognizes thoroughly the Twelve as the true source of Christian teaching, "sent by Christ to teach to all the Word of God" (1 Ap., 39,49; Dial., 42, 109).

(3) Diffusion of Christianity:

From personal knowledge as a traveler, Justin testifies to the wide diffusion of Christianity:

"No race of men exists among whom prayers are not offered up to the Father through the name of the crucified Jesus (Dial., 117).

(4) Authorship of Revelation:

"John, one of the apostles, prophesied, by a revelation made to him, that believers would dwell 1,000 years in Jerus" (Dial., 81)--the earliest direct witness to Johannine authorship, by one who had resided at Ephesus.

(5) Belief of the Primitive Church in Our Lord's True Divinity:

Writing in the name of Christians as a body, he declares, "Both Him (the Father) and the Son who came forth from Him we adore" (1 Ap., 5). He speaks also of some "who held that Jesus was a mere man" as a small and heretical minority (Dial., 48). He writes elsewhere (1 Ap., 13) of the Son as the object of worship "in the second place"; but this statement, made long before the Arian Controversy necessitated precision of language, does not invalidate his other testimonies.

(6) The Holy Spirit:

As to the Holy Spirit, Justin refers to baptism as administered in "the name of Father, Son, and Spirit" (1 Ap., 61), implying the Divinity of the Third Person; although elsewhere he appears to subordinate Him to the Son, as the Son to the Father. He is to be "worshipped in the third order" (1 Ap., 13).

(7) Millenarianism:

"I and others are assured that there will be a resurrection of the dead and 1,000 years in Jerusalem which will be built, adorned and enlarged" (Dial., 80). He admits, however, that many pure and pious Christians think otherwise.

(8) Future punishment:

On this subject Justin speaks with two voices. In 1 Ap., 8, he writes of "condemned souls suffering eternal punishment, not for a millennial period only." But in Dial., 5, he introduces an old man who was the immediate means of his conversion as saying that "the wicked shall be punished as long as God shall will them to exist."

(9) Angel-worship:

In 1 Ap., 6, Justin, when refuting the charge of atheism, writes:

"We reverence and worship the Father, and the Son, and the host of other good messengers (or angels), and the Prophetic Spirit." The context, however, shows that this cult does not necessarily amount to what is usually meant by worship, but simply to veneration and homage. The Greek words here, sebomai and proskuneo, are often used in this lower sense; and the train of thought seems to be this: "You call us atheists; the charge is not true, for we not only believe in one God and Father of all, but in one who is preeminently the Son of God, who was sent by God. We believe further in other heavenly messengers from God, a host of angelic spirits; yea we believe in one who is preeminently God's Spirit, by whom prophets were inspired. All these are the object in different degrees of our veneration and homage." Undoubtedly, however, the statement is at best unguarded and misleading.

(10) Doctrine of the Sacraments:

Justin uses "regenerate" as the synonym of "baptized" (1 Ap., 61), but he identifies the two, not as essentially inseparable, but as uniformly associated. As regards the Lord's Supper, while emphasizing the ideas of commemoration, communion, and thanksgiving, he in one place speaks of the bread and wine being the flesh and blood of the Incarnate Jesus, "from which, by a transmutation, our flesh and blood are nourished" (1 Ap., 66). These words tend to transubstantiation; but, in the absence of any controversy at the time, may be no more than a strongly figurative representation of a spiritual participation.

XI. Epistle to Diognetus.

1. Date and Authorship:

This short apologetic work is mentioned by no ancient writer, and was unknown until its discovery in 1592 by Henry Stephens in a manuscript which perished in the Strassburg fire of 1870. The manuscript appears to ascribe it to the author of another work (To the Greeks); and this, again, is attributed with some probability on the authority of a Syriac document (600-700 AD) to one Ambrosius, "chief among the Greeks" otherwise unknown (see Birks in DCB, "Ep. to D."). If genuinely ancient, the epistle probably belongs to the Sub-apostolic Age, for it refers to Christianity as "having only now entered the world, not long ago"; and in chapter xi (written, however, by a different hand or at a different time) the author calls himself a "disciple of the apostles." Diognetus was a very common Greek name, so that his identification with the tutor of Marcus Aurelius (130-40 AD) is a mere conjecture. Donaldson (Chr. Lit., II, 142) inclines to the belief that the work was composed by one of the many Greeks who came westward in the 14th century and that the author intended merely to write a "good declamation in the old style." The smart but superficial way in which heathenism and Judaism are dealt with is more befitting a medieval rhetorical exercise than the serious treatment, by a cultured writer, of prevalent religions.

2. Contents:

The author, after welcoming the inquiry of Diognetus about Christianity, pours contempt on the pagan worship of gods of wood, stone and metal, without any apparent realization that for cultured heathens of that time such images were not objects, but only symbolic media of worship; and he ridicules Mosaic observances without any recognition of their significance as a Divine educative discipline. But when he proceeds (chapters vii through xii) to describe Christianity, the work merits Hefele's designation, praestantissima Epistola. Into a world, yea, into human hearts, which had become degenerate and wicked, "God sent no mere servant or angel, but His own Son," and Him, not as a condemning Judge, or fear-inspiring Tyrant, but as a gracious Saviour. To the inquiry, "If Christianity is so precious, why was Christ sent so late?" the author replies:

"In order first to bring home to mankind their unworthiness to attain eternal life through their own works" and their incapacity for salvation apart from Him "who is able to save even what it was impossible (formerly) to save." But faith in the Son of God now revealed, would lead to "knowledge of the Father"; knowledge of God to "love of Him who hath first so loved us"; and love of God to "imitation of Him and of His lovingkindness." And wherein consists such imitation? Not in "seeking lordship over those weaker," or in "showing violence toward those below us"; but in "taking on oneself the burden of one's neighbor," even as "God took on Himself the burden of our iniquities, and gave His own Son as a ransom for us." "He who in whatsoever he may be superior is ready to benefit another who is deficient; he who, by distributing to the needy what he has received from God, becomes a god to those who receive his benefits: he is an imitator of God."


Lightfoot, Apostolic Fathers, larger and smaller editions; in Clark's "Ante-Nicene Libary," Apostolic Fathers, Justin Martyr, and Recently Discovered Additions to Early Christian Literature (American edition, The Ants-Nicene Fathers); Eusebius, HE, particularly McGiffert's translation with excellent notes; James Donaldson, Critical History of Christian Literature; Cruttwell, Literary History of Early Christianity; Kruger, History of Early Christian Literature, translation by Gillett; Harnack, Geschichte der altchr. Litt.; Zahn, Geschichte des New Testament Kanons; Forschungen zur Gesch. des New Testament Kanons und der altchr. Lift.; Robinson, Texts and Studies, Aristides; Schaff, Oldest Christian Manual:

H.D.M. Spence, Teaching of the Twelve Apostles; Bartlet, article on "Didache" in HDB; Cunningham, Epistle of Barnabas; articles in DCB (Smith and Wace).

Henry Cowan

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.

Bibliography Information
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. "Entry for 'LITERATURE, SUB-APOSTOLIC, 2'". "International Standard Bible Encyclopedia". 1915.