Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Epistle to Diognetus 3.4-5

I was once privileged to hear a colleague of mine, who
used to be at Edinburgh University, read a paper on
the pre-Nicene and post-Nicene view of sacrifices
offered to God in the OT. This historian pointed out
that the early church fathers generally tried to
justify the "slaying" of animals for the purpose of
immolation by arguing that God never really wanted
Israelite sacrifices to begin with but was merely
"accommodating" Himself to humanity to teach us that
what He really wanted was the sacrifice of His own
Son. In fact, some fathers seem to have concluded that
Israel was acting out of ignorance when they offered
up sheep, goats and bulls. Their worship, in other
words, was characterized by a certain primitiveness
that did not necessarily please God.

Whether one agrees with the fathers at this point or
not, I find it interesting what The Epistle of
Diognetus has to say about Jewish sacrifices mentioned
in the OT. I'd like to get some feedback on The
Epistle to Diognetus 3.4-5 which reads thus:

"For He that made heaven and earth, and all that is
therein, and gives to us all the things of which we
stand in need, certainly requires none of those things
which He Himself bestows on such as think of
furnishing them to Him. But those who imagine that, by
means of blood, and the smoke of sacrifices and
burnt-offerings, they offer sacrifices [acceptable] to
Him, and that by such honours they show Him
respect,-these, by supposing that they can give
anything to Him who stands in need of nothing, appear
to me in no respect to differ from those who
studiously confer the same honour on things destitute
of sense, and which therefore are unable to enjoy such

I've discovered that part of the text here is
doubtful. But most textual critics evidently do prefer the reading


Duncan said...

One must take into account examples of practices like sending a golden pile as a pleading for a cure has its time and place in that culture. This method was a common "medical" practice. Ignorant but also acceptable. Aren't we looking at the intent of the giver - is it the thought that counts or is it acting on the thought.

Duncan said...

Domesticating animals - taking the natural predators out of the equation creates a serious imbalance in a population that could bring about famine and disaster. Many hypothesize that climate change tuned Egypt and Kerma into desert. The evidence says to me that the cattle culture, cutting down trees and removing the migrations caused climate change even though they did try to cull.

Like any good element in a system - it must have multiple functions.

Edgar Foster said...

Unless we have something else to add that contributes to the analysis of Epistle to Diognetus 3, I'm going to restrict comments for this particular blog entry.

Matt13weedhacker said...

4. ὁ γὰρ ποιήσας τὸν οὐρανὸν καὶ τὴν γῆν καὶ πάντα τὰ ἐν αὐτοῖς καὶ πᾶσιν ἡμῖν χορηγῶν, ὧν προσδεόμεθα, οὐδενὸς ἂν αὐτὸς προσδέοιτο τούτων ὧν τοῖς οἰομένοις διδόναι παρέχει αὐτός. 5. οἱ δέ γε θυσίας αὐτῷ δι’ αἵματος καὶ κνίσης καὶ ταύταις ταῖς τιμαῖς αὐτὸν γεραίρειν, οὐδέν μοι δοκοῦσι διαφέρειν τῶν εἰς τὰ κωφὰ τὴν αὐτὴν ἐνδεικνυμένων φιλοτιμίαν· τῶν μὲν μὴ δυναμένοις τῆς τιμῆς μεταλαμβάνειν, τῶν δὲ δοκούντων παρέχειν τῷ μηδενὸς προσδεομένῳ.

INTRODUCTORY NOTE TO THE EPISTLES OF MATHETES TO DIOGNETUS By Kirsopp Lake in The Apostolic Fathers (published London 1912), v. II, pp. 348-349.
"...The best authority for the text is the third edition of Otto's Corpus Apologeticum, vol. 3, published in 1879, as the unique MS. of the epistle in the library at Strasburg was twice collated for Otto's edition but was destroyed by fire in 1870. This MS., probably written in the thirteenth or fourteenth century, was formerly the property of Reuchlin, passed about 1560 to the Alsatian monastery of Maursmunster, and between 1793 and 1795 came to Strasburg. It was collated for the first edition by Otto by Cunitz and for the third edition by Reuss. Earlier copies were made by Stephanus in 1586 (now preserved in Leiden, Cod. Voss. Gr. 30) and about 1590 by Beurer and (a collation of this copy which is no longer extant was published by Stephanus at the end of his edition of 1592). A third copy was made by Hausius about 1580 for Martin Crucius and is now preserved in Tubigen (Cod. Misc. M.b. 17). The fullest account of these MSS. and the proof that none of them are more than copies of the Strasburg MS. is given in O. von Gebhardt's edition of the Apostolic Fathers, vol. i, part 2, published in 1878..."

Handbook of Patrology: The Letter to Diognetus
"...Not a single ancient writer mentions the Letter to Diognetus. The only manuscript which contained it — destroyed in 1870 — attributed it to St. Justin, but the letter is certainly not from his pen. As we lack all evidence from other extrinsic sources, we can only make more or less probable conjectures concerning its authorship. The epistolary form given to this small work may be only a literary fiction..."

"...In the MS., again, the text given under the heading To Diognetus was broken into three fragments by two clear breaks with marginal notes from the old 13th-cent. scribe, saying, "Thus I found a break in the copy before me also, it being very ancient."..."

Edgar Foster said...

Thank you, Matt 13. Always benefit from your contributions.