|New Testament apocrypha|
1 Clement · 2 Clement
Epistles of Ignatius
Polycarp to the Philippians
Martyrdom of Polycarp · Didache
Barnabas · Diognetus
The Shepherd of Hermas
|Ebionites · Hebrews · Nazarenes|
|James · Thomas · Syriac · Pseudo-Matthew · History of Joseph the Carpenter|
|Judas · Mary · Philip · Truth · Secret Mark · The Saviour|
|Thomas · Marcion · Nicodemus · Peter · Barnabas|
Pseudo-Methodius · Thomas · Stephen
1 James · 2 James
Apocryphon of James
Apocryphon of John
Peter to Philip
Paul and Seneca
Andrew · Barnabas · John · Mar Mari · The Martyrs
Peter · Peter and Andrew
Peter and Paul · Peter and the Twelve · Philip
Pilate · Thaddeus · Thomas · Timothy
Xanthippe, Polyxena, and Rebecca
Doctrine of Addai
Questions of Bartholomew
Resurrection of Jesus Christ
Prayer of the Apostle Paul
|Bartholomew · Matthias · Cerinthus · Basilides · Mani · Hebrews · Laodiceans|
|Nag Hammadi library|
The Epistle of Mathetes to Diognetus(Greek: Πρὸς Διόγνητον Ἐπιστολή) is an example of Christian apologetics, writings defending Christianity from its accusers. The Greek writer and recipient are not otherwise known; estimates of dating based on the language and other textual evidence have ranged from AD 130 (which would make it one of the earliest examples of apologetic literature), to the late 2nd century, with the latter often preferred in modern scholarship.
"Mathetes" is not a proper name; it simply means "a disciple." The writer may be a Johannine Christian, although the name "Jesus" and the expression the "Christ" are not present in the text. The author prefers, rather, to refer to the "son" as "the Word."
Diognetus was the name of a tutor of the emperor Marcus Aurelius, who admired him for his freedom from superstition and sound educational advice. It is unlikely, however, that this is the "Diognetus" that the text has in mind.
The Epistle survived only in one manuscript, which was located in Strasbourg and was destroyed in a fire during the Franco-Prussian War in 1870. This manuscript was initially discovered in a 13th-century codex that included writings ascribed to Justin Martyr. It had already been printed, the first time in 1592, when it was generally ascribed to Justin Martyr because of the context of its manuscript. In all copies, about two lines of the text are missing in the middle. The 13th-century manuscript was damaged in that place and the copies were made only after that damage had already been done. A number of transcriptions of this manuscript survive today.
The Epistle has twelve chapters:
The 10th chapter breaks off in mid thought and so the last two chapters, a kind of peroration that abandons the epistolary formula, are often considered to be later additions as characteristically 3rd-century contentions appear in them: "This Word, Who was from the beginning...". Some have ascribed these additions to Hippolytus, based on similarities of thought and style. In the 11th chapter "Mathetes" presents himself as "having been a disciple of Apostles I come forward as a teacher of the Gentiles, ministering worthily to them" placing himself in a class with authoritative figures like John the Presbyter.
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