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ANF02. Fathers of the Second Century: Hermas, Tatian, Athenagoras, Theophilus, and Clement of Alexandria (Entire)
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Chapter I.—Introductory.21532153    [“The Epistles of the New Testament have all a particular reference to the condition and usages of the Christian world at the time they were written. Therefore as they cannot be thoroughly understood, unless that condition and those usages are known and attended to, so futher, though they be known, yet if they be discontinued or changed … references to such circumstances, now ceased or altered, cannot, at this time, be urged in that manner and with that force which they were to the primitive Christians.” This quotation from one of Bishop Butler’s Ethical Sermons has many bearings on the study of our author; but the sermon itself, with its sequel, On Human Nature, may well be read in connection with the Stromata. See Butler, Ethical Discourses, p. 77. Philadelphia, 1855.]

As Scripture has called the Greeks pilferers of the Barbarian21542154    Referring in particular to the Jews. philosophy, it will next have to be considered how this may be briefly demonstrated. For we shall not only show that they have imitated and copied the marvels recorded in our books; but we shall prove, besides, that they have plagiarized and falsified (our writings being, as we have shown, older) the chief dogmas they hold, both on faith and knowledge and science, and hope and love, and also on repentance and temperance and the fear of God,—a whole swarm, verily, of the virtues of truth.

Whatever the explication necessary on the point in hand shall demand, shall be embraced, and especially what is occult in the barbarian philosophy, the department of symbol and enigma; which those who have subjected the teaching of the ancients to systematic philosophic study have affected, as being in the highest degree serviceable, nay, absolutely necessary to the knowledge of truth. In addition, it will in my opinion form an appropriate sequel to defend those tenets, on account of which the Greeks assail us, making use of a few Scriptures, if perchance the Jew also may listen21552155    [Col. iv. 6.] and be able quietly to turn from what he has believed to Him on whom he has not believed. The ingenuous among the philosophers will then with propriety be taken up in a friendly exposure both of their life and of the discovery of new dogmas, not in the way of our avenging ourselves on our detractors (for that is far from being the case with those who have learned to bless those who curse, even though they needlessly discharge on us words of blasphemy), but with a view to their conversion; if by any means these adepts in wisdom may feel ashamed, being brought to their senses by barbarian demonstration; so as to be able, although late, to see clearly of what sort are the intellectual acquisitions for which they make pilgrimages over the seas. Those they have stolen are to be pointed out, that we may thereby pull down their conceit; and of those on the discovery of which through investigation they plume themselves, the refutation will be furnished. By consequence, also we must treat of what is called the curriculum of study—how far it is serviceable;21562156    The text reads ἄχρηστος: Sylburg prefers the reading εὔχρηστος. and of astrology, and mathematics, and magic, and sorcery. For all the Greeks boast of these as the highest sciences. “He who reproves boldly is a peacemaker.”21572157    Prov. x. 10, Septuagint. We have often said already that we have neither practiced nor do we study the expressing ourselves in pure Greek; for this suits those who seduce the multitude from the truth. But true philosophic demonstration will contribute to the profit not of the listeners’ tongues, but of their minds. And, in my opinion, he who is solicitous about truth ought not to frame his language with artfulness and care, but only to try to express his meaning as he best can. For those who are particular about words, and devote their time to them, miss the things.21582158    [διαδιδράσκει τὰ πράγματα. A truly Platonic thrust at sophistical rhetoricians.] It is a feat fit for the gardener to pluck without injury the rose that is growing among the thorns; and for the craftsman to find out the pearl buried in the oyster’s flesh. And they say that fowls have flesh of the most agreeable quality, when, through not being supplied with abundance of food, they pick their sustenance with difficulty, scraping with their feet. If any one, then, speculating on what is similar, wants to arrive21592159    δειληλυθέναι, suggested by Sylb. As more suitable than the διαλεληθέναι of the text. at the truth [that is] in the numerous Greek plausibilities, like the real face beneath masks, he will hunt it out with much pains. For the power that appeared in the vision to Hermas said, “Whatever may be revealed to you, shall be revealed.”21602160    Hermas—close of third vision, [cap. 13. p. 17, supra.]


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