The Apology of St. Aristides of Athens (translation by M. R. James). On Early Christian Writings. Aristides also, a believer earnestly devoted to our religion, left, like Quadratus, an apology for the faith, addressed to Adrian. His work, too, has been preserved. Here follows the defense which Aristides the philosopher made before Hadrian the King on behalf of reverence for God. All-powerful Cæsar Titus Hadrianus.
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The Apology of Aristides was written by the early Christian writer Aristides fl. Untilspology knowledge of Aristides was confined to some references in works by Eusebius of Caesarea and Saint Jerome. Eusebius said that he was an Athenian philosopher  and that Arisfides and another apologist, Quadratusdelivered their Apologies directly to the Emperor Hadrian.
Aristides is also credited with a sermon on Luke Aristides remained a philosopher after his conversion to Christianity, and he continued to work as a philosopher in Athens. Inthe Armenian monks of the Mechitarite convent in Venice published the first two chapters, which they had found in od manuscript in their collection in Armenian translation. This they accompanied with a Latin translation. Opinion as to the authenticity of the fragment was disputed, apooogy Ernest Renan particularly vocal in opposition.
Later, inJ. While his edition was passing through the press, it was observed that the work had been extant in Greek the whole time, though in a slightly abbreviated form, since it had been embedded as a speech in a religious novel written about the 6th century entitled The Life of Barlaam and Josaphat.
A further Armenian fragment was discovered in the library at Echmiadzin by F.
Conybeare in a manuscript of the 11th century. But the discovery of the Syriac version reopened the question of the date of the work. Although its title corresponds to that given by the Armenian fragment and by Eusebius, it begins with a formal inscription to the emperor Titus Hadrianus Antoninus Augustus Pius; and Dr.
Rendel Harris is followed by Adolf von Harnack and others in supposing that it was only through a careless reading of this inscription that the work was supposed to have been addressed to Hadrian. If this be the case, it must be placed elsewhere in the long reign of Antoninus Pius CE. There are, however, no aristidds grounds for rejecting the thrice-bested dedication to Hadrian, his predecessor, and the picture of things in it, that it is moved by compulsion: Having briefly spoken of the atistides nature in the terms of Greek philosophy aistides, Aristides proceeds to ask which of all the races of men will be at all partaken of the truth about God.
Here we have the first attempt at a systematic comparison of ancient religions. For the purpose of his inquiry, he adopts an obvious arlstides common vision into idolaters, Jews and Oof, Idolaters, or, as he here gently terms apokogy in addressing the emperor, those who worship what among you are said to be gods, he subdivides into the three great world-civilizations: ChaldeansGreeks and Egyptians.
He chooses this order so as to work up to a climax of error and absurdity in heathen worship. The direct nature-worship of the Chaldeans is shown to be false because its objects are works of the Creator, fashioned for the use of men. They obey false laws and have no power over themselves.
The Greeks had erred worse than the Chaldeans, “calling those gods who are no gods, according to their evil lusts, in order that having apoolgy as advocates of their wickedness they may commit adultery, rape, plunder and kill, and do the worst of deeds”. The gods of Olympus are challenged one by one, and shown to be either vile or helpless, or both at once. A heaven of aristixes divinities not inspire a reasonable worship.
These gods are not even respectable; how can they be adorable?
The Egyptians have to be worse than all the nations; for they were not content with the worships of the Chaldeans and Greeks, but introduced, of moreover, as gods even brute beasts of the dry land and of the waters, and plants and herbs: Throughout the whole of the argument there is strong common criticism of the non-Christian religions and a stern severity unrelieved by conscious humour.
Aristides is engaged in a real contest; he strikes hard blows, and gives no quarter. He cannot see, as Justin and Clement see, in striving after truth, a feeling after God, in the older religions, in even in the philosophies of Greece.
He has no patience with their tempts to find a deeper meaning in the stories of the gods. Then why does god hate god, or god kill god? Do they say that the histories are mythical? Then the gods themselves were myths, and nothing more. The Jews are briefly treated.
After a reference to their descent from Abraham and their sojourn in Egypt, Aristides praises them for their worship of the one Aristided, the Almighty creator; but blames them as worshipping angels, and observing all sabbaths and new moons, and the unleavened bread, and fasting, and circumcisionand cleanness of meats. He then proceeds to the description of the Christians.
Arietides begins arietides a fragment which, when purged of glosses by a comparison of all three forms in which it survives, reads thus: This passage contains striking correspondences with the second section of the Apostles’ Creed. The attribution of the Crucifixion to the Jews appears in several 2nd-century documents; Justin actually uses the words “He was pierced by the Jews” in his Dialogue with Trypho.
This simple description is there in the Syriac, but the additional details must be accepted with caution: After asserting that this is the way truth, and again referring for further information to apllogy writings of the Christians, he says: At the time we have a passage which is found only in the Syriac, but which is shown by internal evidence to contain original elements: These last words point to the use in the composition of this apology of a lost apocryphal work of very early date, The Preachings of Peter.
This book is known to us chiefly by quotations Apopogy of Alexandria: It was used by the gnostic Heracleon and probably by the unknown writer of the Epistle to Diognetus. From the fragments which survive we know that it contained:.
Now all these points, except the proof from Jewish prophecy, are taken up and worked out Aristides with a frequent use of the actual language of the Preaching of Peter. A criterion is thus given us for the construction of the Apology based on the abbreviated Greek and we are enabled to claim with certainty the passages of the Syriac which might otherwise be suspected interpolations.
The style of the Apology is exceedingly simple. It is curiously described by Jeromewho never can have seen it, as Apologeticum pro Christianis contextum philosophorum sententiis. Its merits are its recognition of the helplessness of the old Athenism to satisfy human aspiration after the divine, and the impressive simplicity with which it presents the unfailing argument of the lives of Christians.
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