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Apology of Aristides

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Estimated Range of Dating: 120-130 A.D.

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Information on Apology of Aristides

Like Quadratus, Aristides is said to have presented his apology to Hadrian (c. 117-138 CE).

Here is the reference from Eusebius, Hist. Eccl. IV.3.3.

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 even to the present day by a great many persons.

Here is the reference from Jerome, Illustrious Men 20.

Aristides, a most eloquent Athenian philosopher, and a disciple of Christ while yet retaining his philosopher's garb, presented a work to Hadrian at the same time that Quadratus presented his. The work contained a systematic statement of our doctrine, that is, an Apology for the Christians, which is still extant and is regarded by philologians as a monument to his genius.

Robert M. Grant comments on the attestation to Aristides (The Anchor Bible Dictionary, vol. 1, p. 382):

According to Eusebius, both Quadratus and Aristides presented Christian apologies to the Emperor Hadrian at Athens, probably in 124 C.E. Aristides was unknown to scholars for many years, though his work survived in at least two 4th-century papyri (POxy. 15: 1778). The Mechitarists of Venice published an Armenian fragment in 1878, and in 1889 J. R. Harris discovered the whole apology in a 7th-century Syriac manuscript at St. Catherine's on Sinai. J. A. Robinson immediately found that the Greek apology had been used for a lengthy seection of the Greek novel Barlaam and Josaphat, ascribed to John of Damascus. The text can be reconstructed from the last two witnesses and confirmed by the fragmentary papyri.

On the contents, Grant writes (op. cit., p. 382):

The arrangement is simple: The work begins with a semiphilosophical description of God and then shows that the gods of various nations fall short. These are the Chaldaeans, who worship the elements/planets; the Greeks, who worship human beings, vulnerable and erratic; and the Egyptians, who worship animals. the Jews are better than any of these people but worship angels and observe the ritual law. Christians are best, for they trace their genealogy back to Jesus the Christ and practice pure love and benevolence. The Syriac version emphasizes their dislike of homosexuality, perhaps more appropriately mentioned to Antoninus [to which the Syriac version is addressed] than to Hadrian. Christians are slandered by the Greeks but they are just and holy.

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