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    Athenagoras the Athenian: A Plea For the Christians

A Plea For the Christians
By Athenagoras the Athenian: Philosopher and Christian


53 Another reading gives, "both of the antiquity of our religion."

54 [Usher quotes this concession as to the a0kribei/a or minute delicacy he could not attain. Ut supra, p. 119, note 1.]

55 Berosus flourished in the reign of Alexander the Great.

56 Otto prefers su/mboulon instead of su/mbolon, on the authority of one ms.. The sense then is, "that you may have a counsellor and pledge of the truth,"-the counsellor and pledge of the truth being the book written by Theophilus for Autolycus. [This has been supposed to mean, "that you may have a token and pledge (or earnest) of the truth," i.e., in Christian baptism. Our author uses St. Paul's word (a0r0r9abw=n), "the earnest of the spirit," as in 2 Cor. i. 22, and Eph. 1.14.]

1 But Lardner tells the whole story much better. Credibility, vol. ii. p. 193.

2 The dogmatic value of a patristic quotation depends on the support it finds in other Fathers, under the supremacy of Scripture: hence the utility of Kaye's collocations.

3 The fragment in which the notice occurs was extracted from the works of Philip by some unknown writer. It is published as an appendix to Dodwell's Dissertationes in Irenaeum.

4 [Here a picture suggests itself. We go back to the times of Hadrian. A persecution is raging against the "Nazarenes." A boyish, but well-cultured Athenian saunters into the market-place to hear some new thing. They are talking of those enemies of the human race, the Christians. Curiosity leads him to their assemblies. He finds them keeping the feast of the resurrection. Quadratus is preaching. He mocks, but is persuaded to open one of St' Paul's Epistles. "What will this babbler say?" He reads the fifteenth chapter of First Corinthians, and resents it with all the objections still preserved in his pages. One can see him inquiring more about this Paul, and reading the seventeenth chapter of the Acts. What an animated description of his own Athens, and in what a new light it reflects the familiar scenes! He must refute this Paul. But, when he undertakes it, he falls in love when the intrepid assailant of the gods of Greece. Scales fall from his own eyes. How he sees it all at last, we find in the two works here presented, corresponding as they do, first and last, with the two parts of the apostle's speech to the men of Athens.]

189 1 Literally, "embassy." [By this name best known to scholars.]

2 There are here many varieties of reading: we have followed the text suggested by Gesner.

3 We here follow the text of Otto; others read h9mi=n.

4 [Kaye, 153.]

5 [For three centuries the faithful were made witnesses for Jesus and the resurrection, even unto death; with "spoiling of their goods," not only, but dying daily, and "counted as sheep for the slaughter." What can refuse such testimony? They conquered through suffering.

The reader will be pleased with this citation from an author, the neglect of whose heavenly writings is a sad token of spiritual decline in the spirit of our religion:-

"The Lord is sure of His designed advantages out of the sufferings of His Church and of His saints for His name. He loses nothing, and they lose nothing; but their enemies, when they rage most and prevail most, are ever the greatest losers. His own glory grows, the graces of His people grow; yea, their very number grows, and that, sometimes, most by their greatest sufferings. This was evident in the first ages of the Christian Church. Where were the glory of so much invincible love and patience, if they had not been so put to it?" Leighton, Comm. on St. Peter, Works, vol. iv. p. 478. West's admirable edition, London, Longmans, 1870.]

6 [Kaye, 154.]

7 [Tatian, cap. xxvii., supra, p. 76.]

8 [Tatian, cap. xxvii., supra, p. 76.]

9 [See cap. xxxi. Our Lord was "perfect man," yet our author resents the idea of eating the flesh of one's own kind as worse than brutal. As to the Eucharist the inference is plain.]

10 Thus Otto; others read, "if any one of men."

11 [Kaye, p. 7.]

200 12 [De Maistre, who talks nothing but sophistry when he rides his hobby, and who shocked the pope himself by his fanatical effort to demonstrate the papal system, is, nevertheless, very suggestive and interesting when he condescends to talk simply as a Christian. See his citations showing the heathen consciousness of one Supreme Being. Soirees de St. Petersbourg, vol. i. pp. 225, 280; vol. ii. pp. 379, 380.]

13 From an unknown play.

14 From an unknown play; the original is ambiguous; comp. Cic. De Nat Deorum, ii. c. 25, where the words are translated-"Seest thou this boundless ether on high which embraces the earth in its moist arms? Reckon this Zeus." Athenagoras cannot so have understood Euripides.

15 Not found in his extant works.

16 Common text has o@yei; we follow the text of Otto. [Gesner notes this corruption, and conjectures that it should be the name of some philosopher.]

17 One, two, three, and four together forming ten.

18 Timaeus, p. 28, C.

19 Timaeus, p. 41, A.

20 [We must not wonder at the scant praise accorded by the Apologists to the truths embedded everywhere in Plato and other heathen writers. They felt intensely, that "the world, by wisdom, knew not God; and that it was their own mission to lead men to the only source of true philosophy.]

21 [See cap. xxx., infra. Important, as showing the degree of value attributed by the Fathers to the Sibylline and Orphic sayings. Comp. Kaye, p. 177.]

22 i.e., Do several gods make up one God?-Otto. Others read affirmatively, "God is one."

23 i.e., the world.

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