Here are more comments from the Epistle to Diognetus. I will intersperse some remarks between the quotes from the work.
"But as to their [i.e., the Jews'] scrupulosity
concerning meats, and their superstition as respects
the Sabbaths, and their boasting about circumcision,
and their fancies about fasting and the new moons,
which are utterly ridiculous and unworthy of notice, I
do not think that you require to learn anything from
It is not surprising to find the nameless writer
of the Epistle to Diognetus negatively contrasting
Christianity with Judaism. After all, the
apostle Paul also critiqued Jewish scrupulosity
regarding meats, Sabbaths, and other special days as
well as reliance on circumcision for divine
justification (Gal. 4:8-11; 5:1-6). Of course, the epistle's
writer could not have been speaking ill of the Sabbath day
simpliciter since God mandated the Sabbath
observance for Israel. The Epistle to Diognetus 4.3 certainly
seems to indicate that the writer is particularly
condemning abuses of the Sabbath day. At any rate,
what does strike me as an attempt to expunge
Jewishness from the Christian religion is the
author's condescending and unnecessarily harsh
words toward the end of the paragraph above.
"And to glory in the circumcision of the flesh as a
proof of election, and as if, on account of it, they
were specially beloved by God, how is it not a subject
Do blog readers here believe that the writer has a
scripturally valid argument? Is it biblical to say
that circumcision was never a "proof of election"
or that it never functioned as a sign of
God's dealings with Abraham? Then again, maybe the
writer is only focusing on the Judaism of his day
without denying the important role that Judaism had in
what some theologians have called "salvation history"
(Heilsgeschichte). The writer concludes Epistle to
Diognetus 4 in this way:
"And as to their observing months and days, as if
waiting upon the stars and the moon, and their
distributing, according to their own tendencies, the
appointments of God, and the vicissitudes of the
seasons, some for festivities, and others for
mourning, who would deem this a part of divine
worship, and not much rather a manifestation of folly?
I suppose, then, you are sufficiently convinced that
the Christians properly abstain from the vanity and
error common [to both Jews and Gentiles], and from the
busy-body spirit and vain boasting of the Jews; but
you must not hope to learn the mystery of their
peculiar mode of worshipping God from any mortal."