BY D. M. KAY, B.Sc., B.D., ASSISTANT TO THE PROFESSOR OF SEMITIC LANGUAGES IN THE UNIVERSITY OF EDINBURGH.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The Apology of Aristides, mentioned by Eusebius, St. Jerome, and other ancient writers and said to have been the inspiration for the great works of St. Justin Martyr, was considered lost until the late Nineteenth Century, when an Armenian fragment was discovered. Then in 1889 the full text in Syriac translation was found in the library of St. Catherine's in the Sinai. Ironically, it was then realized that the work had never been lost at all: a slightly shortened version of it had been preserved in the well-known Life of St. Barlaam of India, by St. John of Damascus. (Since the numerous references to Greek gods would have made little impact on an Indian audience, one may assume that St. John, writing for a Greek readership which would have found a denunciation of Vedic or Buddhist deities equally meaningless, decided to insert the Apology of Aristides as a sort of rough equivalent of whatever Barlaam actually preached to the Brahmins.)
St. Aristides delivered the Apology around the year 125, when Hadrian visited Athens [Eusebius, H.E. IV, iii]. His memory is kept by the Church on 31 August.
Since the Greek version found in Barlaam and Ioasaph is widely available online, we here give the longer version preserved in Syriac. Note that there are a number of "Syrianisms" is this version -- cultural rather than theological, such as the reference to Hades as "Sheol". -- N. Redington, St. Pachomius Library.
I've decided to create a new section on the blog. It will contain select writings from the Church Fathers, along with introductions, etc., by me. I'll add to it (both in terms of writings and in terms of commentary) with time. Here are the first five offerings:
Hermas was a man who lived in Rome during the lifetime of Clement I, who is referred to in Hermas's book The Shepherd in a way that implies he was still alive. The Shepherd is a record of visions that Hermas received, making it one of the earliest--or even the earliest--reported private revelation. It was composed perhaps around A.D. 80. According to the Origen, the author is the same Hermas mentioned in Romans 16:14. --Jimmy Akin
Pope Clement I was such an influential figure in the early Church that several documents came to be attributed to him, though he did not write them. The earliest of these appears to be a document sometimes called The Second Letter of Clement to the Corinthians or sometimes Second Clement. It, or more properly its author, is also called pseudo-Clement since he wasn't really Clement.
The work isn't actually a letter. Instead, it appears to be homily--possibly given at Corinth--and, based on the way it describes the Church's penitential discipline, it may have been written around the same time as The Shepherd of Hermas, perhaps around A.D. 80. --Jimmy Akin
The common opinion is that this letter was not written by the Apostle Barnabas, so it is often referred to as pseudo-Barnabas. It was quite early, however, and was likely written around A.D. 75, just a few years after the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple. In fact, it seems to be the first mention in Christian literature of the destruction of the Temple. The author is writing for a group of gentile Christians, and much of the letter deals with the Jewish-gentile controversy that marked the first century. --Jimmy Akin