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History of the Christian Church, Volume II: Ante-Nicene Christianity. A.D. 100-325.
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§ 172. The Apologists. Quadratus and Aristides.


On the Apologetic Lit. in general, see § 28, p. 85 sq., and § 37, p. 104.


We now proceed to that series of ecclesiastical authors who, from the character and name of their chief writings are called Apologists. They flourished during the reigns of Hadrian, Antoninus, and Marcus Aurelius, when Christianity was exposed to the literary as well as bloody persecution of the heathen world. They refuted the charges and slanders of Jews and Gentiles, vindicated the truths of the Gospel, and attacked the errors and vices of idolatry. They were men of more learning and culture than the Apostolic Fathers. They were mostly philosophers and rhetoricians, who embraced Christianity in mature age after earnest investigation, and found peace in it for mind and heart. Their writings breathe the same heroism, the same enthusiasm for the faith, which animated the martyrs in their sufferings and death.

The earliest of these Apologists are Quadratus and Aristides who wrote against the heathen, and Aristo of Pella, who wrote against the Jews, all in the reign of Hadrian (117–137).

Quadratus ( ) was a disciple of the apostles, and bishop (presbyter) of Athens. His Apology is lost. All we know of him is a quotation from Eusebius who says: "Quadratus addressed a discourse to Aelius Hadrian, as an apology for the religion that we profess; because certain malicious persons attempted to harass our brethren. The work is still in the hands of some of the brethren, as also in our own; from which any one may see evident proof, both of the understanding of the man, and of his apostolic faith. This writer shows the antiquity of the age in which he lived, in these passages: ’The deeds of our Saviour,’ says he, ’were always before you, for they were true miracles; those that were healed, those that were raised from the dead, who were seen, not only when healed and when raised, but were always present. They remained living a long time, not only whilst our Lord was on earth, but likewise when he left the earth. So that some of them have also lived to our own times.’ Such was Quadratus."

Aristides was an eloquent philosopher at Athens who is mentioned by Eusebius as a contemporary of Quadratus.13291329    Hist. Eccl. IV. 3.329 His Apology likewise disappeared long ago, but a fragment of it was recently recovered in an Armenian translation and published by the Mechitarists in 1878.13301330    The discovery has called forth a considerable literature which is mentioned by Harnack, Texte und Untersuchungen, etc., I., p. 110, note 23. The first part is the most important. See a French translation by Gautier, in the "Revue de théol. et de philos., " 1879, p. 78-82; a German translation by Himpel in the "Tübing. Theol. Quartalschrift, " 1880, reprinted by Harnack, pp. 111 and 112. The art. Aristides in the first vol. of Smith and Wace (p. 160) is behind the times. Bücheler and Renan doubt the genuineness of the document; Gautier, Baunard, Himpel, Harnack defend it; but Harnack assumes some interpolation, as the term theotokos, of the Virgin Mary. The Armenian MS. is dated 981, and the translation seems to have been made from the Greek in the fifth century. At the time of Eusebius the work was still well known in the church. But the second piece, which the Mechitarists also ascribe to Aristides, is a homily of later date, apparently directed against Nestorianism.330 It was addressed to Hadrian, and shows that the preaching of Paul in Athens had taken root. It sets forth the Christian idea of God as an infinite and indescribable Being who made all things and cares for all things, whom we should serve and glorify as the only God; and the idea of Christ, who is described as "the Son of the most high God, revealed by the Holy Spirit, descended from heaven, born of a Hebrew Virgin. His flesh he received from the Virgin, and he revealed himself in the human nature as the Son of God. In his goodness which brought the glad tidings, he has won the whole world by his life-giving preaching. [It was he who according to the flesh was born from the race of the Hebrews, of the mother of God, the Virgin Mariam.]13311331    The bracketed sentence sounds repetitious and like a post-Nicene interpolation.331 He selected twelve apostles and taught the whole world by his mediatorial, light-giving truth. And he was crucified, being pierced with nails by the Jews; and he rose from the dead and ascended to heaven. He sent the apostles into all the world and instructed all by divine miracles full of wisdom. Their preaching bears blossoms and fruits to this day, and calls the whole world to illumination."

A curious feature in this document is the division of mankind into four parts, Barbarians, Greeks, Jews, and Christians.

Aristo of Pella, a Jewish Christian of the first half of the second century, was the author of a lost apology of Christianity against Judaism.13321332    See above, § 38, p. 107, and l.c. I. 115-130.332



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