Day two: Epistle of Mathetes to Diognetus: Chaps. 1-6

Who: Anonymous author, “mathetes” is not a name, but is the Greek word for “a disciple”

What: possibly one of the earliest examples of a Christian apologetic defending the faith from its accusers, written to someone interested in learning more about the faith and its customs

Why: The Christian faith was under attack and ridicule in the early centuries, many things about the Church were misunderstood and so various Christians took to writing apologetic's (defences) to clarify doctrines and beliefs from being maligned.

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When: Estimated between AD 130 and late 2nd century

I've only ever come across this epistle by name in references in other books, so it's a new one for me. This section today was particularly interesting as the author was contrasting the faith and practices of Christians against Greek worship and that of the Jews too. What I do find odd is how in this book (and others I've read) Jewish beliefs are often called “Jewish superstitions” which the writer relates to meaning much of the traditional practices of the Jews we'd recognise from the Old Testament. Maybe superstition meant something else back then than it does today?

This reading then finishes with a description of how Christians live and intermingle with society, yet are distinct from the world around them. I found this challenging and wondered if the description still applies to what we see today in the Church?

[The Christians] display to us their wonderful and confessedly striking method of life. They dwell in their own countries, but simply as sojourners. As citizens, they share in all things with others, and yet endure all things as if foreigners. Every foreign land is to them as their native country, and every land of their birth as a land of strangers. They marry, as do all [others]; they beget children; but they do not destroy their offspring. They have a common table, but not a common bed. They are in the flesh, but they do not live after the flesh. They pass their days on earth, but they are citizens of heaven. They obey the prescribed laws, and at the same time surpass the laws by their lives. They love all men, and are persecuted by all. They are unknown and condemned; they are put to death, and restored to life. They are poor, yet make many rich; they are in lack of all things, and yet abound in all; they are dishonoured, and yet in their very dishonour are glorified. They are evil spoken of, and yet are justified; they are reviled, and bless; they are insulted, and repay the insult with honour; they do good, yet are punished as evil-doers. When punished, they rejoice as if quickened into life

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