The Apology of Aristides: Texts and Studies 1 pp. Translation from the Syriac. Again, the apology which Aristides the philosopher made before Hadrian the king concerning the worship of God. I, O king, by the grace of God came into this world; and having contemplated the heavens and the earth and the seas, and beheld the sun and the rest of the orderly creation, I was amazed at the arrangement of the world; and I comprehended that the world and all that is therein are moved by the impulse of another, and I understood that he that moveth them is God, who is hidden in them and concealed from them: and this is well known, that that which moveth is more powerful than that which is moved.
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It was known that there had been such early defenders of the faith, and that Quadratus had seen persons who had been miraculously healed by Christ; but beyond this little more could be said. To Justin Martyr, who flourished about a. While Christianity was winning its way to recognition in the Roman empire, these writers tried to disprove the gross calumnies current about Christians, to enlighten rulers and magistrates as to the real character and conduct of the adherents of the new religion, and to remove the prejudice which led to the violent persecutions of the populace.
At the same time they demonstrated the folly of polytheism and pointed out its disastrous effects on morality. This faithful company of the defenders of the faith has now regained Aristides as their leader in place of Justin Martyr. It will be well to recount briefly what was previously known about Aristides, and to tell how the lost Apology has been found.
Eusebius, in his History of the Church, written during the reign of Constantine, a. This work is also preserved by a great number, even to the present day.
About a century later Jerome died a. After this date Aristides passes out of view. The book had apparently disappeared for ever. In the Mechitarite convent of S.
Lazarus at Venice there is a body of Armenian monks who study Armenian and other literature. In these Armenians surprised the learned world by publishing a Latin translation of an Armenian fragment the first two chapters of the lost Apology of Aristides. Renan at once set it down as spurious because it contained theological terms of a later age, e.
These terms were afterwards seen to be due to the translator. At what time the translation from Greek into Armenian was made is not apparent; but it may reasonably be connected with the work begun by the famous Armenian patriarch Mesrobes.
This noble Christian invented an alphabet for his country, established schools, and sent a band of young Armenians to Edessa, Athens, and elsewhere with instructions to translate into Armenian the best sacred and classical books.
And in spite of Mohammedans and Turks Armenia has remained Christian, and now restores to the world the treasures committed to its keeping in the early centuries.
Opinions as to the Armenian fragment of Aristides remained undecided till In the spring of that year Professor J. Rendel Harris, of Cambridge, had the honour of discovering a Syriac version of the whole Apology in the library of the Convent of St. Catharine, on Mount Sinai. He found the Apology of Aristides among a collection of Syriac treatises of an ethical character; and he refers the ms.
Professor Harris has translated the Syriac into English, and has carefully edited the Syriac text with minute discussions of every point of interest. Contributions to Biblical and Patristic Literature. Edited by J. Robinson, B. Rendel Harris, M.
Cambridge University Press. The recovery of the Syriac version by Professor Harris placed the genuineness of the Armenian fragment beyond question. It also led to the strange reappearance of the greater part of the original Greek. Professor J. Robinson, the general editor of the Cambridge Texts and Studies, having read the translation of the Syriac version, discovered that the Apology of Aristides is incorporated in the early Christian Romance entitled, The Life of Barlaam and Josaphat.
Some account must be given of this remarkable book in order to show its connection with the Apology of Aristides. Its author is said to be John of Damascus, who died about a. Whoever wrote it, the book soon became very popular. In the East it was translated into Arabic, Ethiopic, Armenian, and Hebrew; in the West there are versions of it in nearly a dozen languages, including an English metrical rendering.
As early as a king of Norway had it translated into Icelandic. It is now known to be the story of Buddha in a Christian setting, furnished with fables and parables which have migrated from the far East and can be traced back to an extreme antiquity.
At his birth the astrologers predict that he will become great, but will embrace the new doctrine. To prevent this, his father surrounds the prince with young and beautiful attendants, and takes care that Josaphat shall see nothing of illness, old age, or death. At length Josaphat desires his freedom, and then follow the excursions as in the case of Buddha. Josaphat seeing so much misery possible in life is sunk in despair.
In this state he is visited by a Christian hermit—Barlaam by name. Josaphat is converted to Christianity, and Barlaam withdraws again to the desert. When the day comes, the prince Josaphat charges Nachor, the fictitious monk, to do his best on pain of torture.
Josaphat finally relinquishes his kingdom, and retires into the desert with the genuine Barlaam for prayer and meditation. Not only so, but the churches of the Middle Ages, forgetting the fabulous character of the story, raised Barlaam and Josaphat to the rank of saints, with a holy day in the Christian calendar. Thus the author of Barlaam and Josaphat caused Christianity unwittingly to do honour to the founder of Buddhism under the name of St. Josaphat; and also to read the Apology of Aristides in nearly twenty languages without suspecting what it was.
The speech of Nachor in Greek, that is to say, the greater part of the original Greek of the Apology of Aristides, has been extracted from this source by Professor Robinson and is published in Texts and Studies, Vol. It may be asked whether we have in any of our three sources the actual words of Aristides. The circumstances under which the Apology was incorporated in The Life of Barlaam and Josaphat are such as to render it unlikely that the author of the Romance should copy with the faithfulness of a scribe; but examination proves that very few modifications hare been made.
The Greek divides men into three races the Syriac and Armenian into four ; the introductory accounts of these races are in the Greek blended with the general discussion; and at the close the description of early Christian customs is shortened.
These few differences from the Syriac are all explained by the fact that the Apology had to be adapted to the circumstances of an Indian court in a later age. On the other hand, when the Syriac is compared.
In short, the actual words of Aristides may be restored with tolerable certainty—a task which has been already accomplished by a German scholar, Lic. Edgar Hennecke. Recension und Rekonstruktion des Textes, von Lic. In any case we have the substance of the Apology of Aristides with almost verbal precision. In regard to the date of Aristides, Eusebius says expressly that the Apology was presented to Hadrian while he was in Athens about the year a.
The only ground for questioning this statement is the second superscription given in the Syriac version, which implies that the Apology was presented to Antoninus Pius, a.
Writing in a. His Apology contains no express quotation from Scripture; but the Emperor is referred for information to a gospel which is written. Some topics are conspicuous by their absence. Aristides has no trace of ill-feeling to the Jews; no reference to the Logos doctrine, nor to the distinctive ideas of the Apostle Paul; he has no gnosticism or heresy to denounce, and he makes no appeal to miracle and prophecy.
Christianity, in his view, is worthy of a philosophic emperor because it is eminently reasonable, and gives an impulse and power to live a good life. On the whole, Aristides represents that type of Christian practice which is found in the Teaching of the Twelve Apostles; and to this he adds a simple Christian philosophy which may be compared with that of St. Paul at Athens. Although the details about the elements and the heathen gods are discussed with tedious minuteness, still his closing section describing the lives of the early Christians should always be good reading.
Full advantage has been taken of his notes and apparatus criti cus, but no use has been made of his translation. In obscure passages the German translation of Dr. Band, Heft 1. The Greek translation is made from the text edited by Professor Robinson. The translations from the Greek and from the Syriac are arranged side by side, so that their relation to one another is apparent at a glance.
No attempt has been made to force the same English words from passages which are evidently meant to be identical in the two languages; but the literal tenour of each has been allowed to assert itself.
Apology of Aristides
It was known that there had been such early defenders of the faith, and that Quadratus had seen persons who had been miraculously healed by Christ; but beyond this little more could be said. To Justin Martyr, who flourished about a. While Christianity was winning its way to recognition in the Roman empire, these writers tried to disprove the gross calumnies current about Christians, to enlighten rulers and magistrates as to the real character and conduct of the adherents of the new religion, and to remove the prejudice which led to the violent persecutions of the populace. At the same time they demonstrated the folly of polytheism and pointed out its disastrous effects on morality.
Aristides of Athens
See Article History Aristides, flourished 2nd century , Athenian philosopher, one of the earliest Christian Apologists, his Apology for the Christian Faith being one of the oldest extant Apologist documents. Known primarily through a reference by the 4th-century historian Eusebius of Caesarea , Aristides addressed his Apology either to the Roman emperor Hadrian reigned — or to his successor Antoninus Pius reigned — Aristides reasons that such a Being would need to be eternal, perfect, immortal, all-knowing, the Father of mankind, and sufficient to himself. He then divides the pre-Christian human race into three categories according to their idea of deity and religious practices. In his judgment, all were inadequate: the barbarians, including the Babylonians Chaldeans and the Egyptians, with their cults of the elements of the universe and animals; the Greeks with their worship of anthropomorphic gods whose infamies made them anything but divine; and the Jewish monotheistic ideal, deserving respect because of its faith in the Creator, genuine prophets, superior standards of morality , and social conscience , but excessive in devotion to angels and external ceremonies. Christian worship of God is manifested by a highly moral life based upon the commandments of Christ, to whom they look for the resurrection of the dead and life in the world to come.
Discovery of the Apology[ edit ] First Syriac words of the Apology of Aristides In , the Armenian monks of the Mechitarite convent in Venice published the first two chapters, which they had found in a manuscript in their collection in Armenian translation. This they accompanied with a Latin translation. Opinion as to the authenticity of the fragment was disputed, with Ernest Renan particularly vocal in opposition. Later, in , J. While his edition was passing through the press, it was observed that the work had been extant in Greek the whole time, though in a slightly abbreviated form, since it had been embedded as a speech in a religious novel written about the 6th century entitled The Life of Barlaam and Josaphat. A further Armenian fragment was discovered in the library at Echmiadzin by F.
Biography[ edit ] Very little is known of Aristides, except for the introductory information given by Eusebius of Caesarea and Saint Jerome. According to their account, Aristides practiced philosophy in Athens, where he lived, prior to and after his conversion to Christianity. Eusebius writes in his Ecclesiastical History "Aristides also, a faithful disciple of our religion, has left an Apology of the faith dedicated to Hadrian. It is also supported by the express language of the Apology in the Armenian version. It is contradicted only by the second superscription to the Syriac version, which says that the Apology was given to Emperor Antoninus Pius in the year