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PRETERIST UNIVERSALISM | MODERN PRETERISM | PRETERIST IDEALISM

Mathetes
Pre-AD70 Christian?

The Epistle of Mathetes to Diognetus | Introduction: A.D.130?

The Epistle of Mathetes

“…Truly God Himself, Who is almighty, the Creator of all things, and invisible, has sent from heaven, and placed among men, the Truth, and the holy and incomprehensible Word, and has firmly established Him in their hearts…” (The Epistle of Mathetes to Diognetus, chapter 7)


Chapter III - Superstition of the Jews

And next, I imagine that you are most desirous of hearing something on this point, that the Christians do not observe the same forms of divine worship as do the Jews. The Jews, then, if they abstain from the kind of service above described, and deem it proper to worship one God as being Lord of all, [are right]; but if they offer Him worship in the way which we have described, they greatly err. For while the Gentiles, by offering such things to those that are destitute of sense and hearing, furnish an example of madness; they, on the other hand by thinking to offer these things to God as if He needed them, might justly reckon it rather an act of folly than of divine worship. 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 11 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 honours.

Chapter IV - The Other Observances of the Jews

But as to their 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 me. For, to accept some of those things which have been formed by God for the use of men as properly formed, and to reject others as useless and redundant,-how can this be lawful? And to speak falsely of God, as if He forbade us to do what is good on the Sabbath-days,-how is not this impious? 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 of ridicule? 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."


Author and audience
"Mathetes" is not a proper name; it simply means "a disciple." The writer is a Johannine Christian who does not use the name "Jesus" or the expression the "Christ" but prefers the use of "the Word."

A Diognetus was a tutor of the emperor Marcus Aurelius, who admired him for his freedom from superstition and sound educational advice (Meditations 1.6), but he is not likely to be the recipient, or even the assumed recipient, of this apology. More likely is 'the most exellent Diognetus', Claudius Diogenes, who was procurator of Alexandria at the turn of the second/third centuries.


[edit] Manuscripts
The Epistle survives in two manuscripts. A third, that survived until 1870, was in a 13th century codex that included writings ascribed to Justin Martyr. The other two are probably copied from this. It was at Strasbourg but was burned there during the Franco-Prussian War. Fortunately 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 manuscripts, about two lines of the text are missing in the middle. The 13th century manuscript was obviously damaged in that place and the copies were made only after that damage had already been done.


[edit] Contents
The Epistle is in twelve chapters.

Chapter I.-Occasion of the Epistle. Chapter II.-The Vanity of Idols. Chapter III.-Superstitions of the Jews. Chapter IV.-The Other Observances of the Jews. Chapter V.-The Manners of the Christians. Chapter VI.-The Relation of Christians to the World. Chapter VII.-The Manifestation of Christ. Chapter VIII.-The Miserable State of Men Before the Coming of the Word. Chapter IX.-Why the Son Was Sent So Late. Chapter X.-The Blessings that Will Flow from Faith. Chapter XI.-These Things are Worthy to Be Known and Believed. Chapter XII.-The Importance of Knowledge to True Spiritual Life.

The 10th chapter breaks off in mid thought, and so the last two chapters, a kind of peroration that abandons the (fictive ?) epistolary formula, are often considered to be later additions, for 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.


[edit] Literature
Lona, Horacio E.: "An Diognet", Übersetzt und erklärt, ed. by N. Brox, K. Niederwimmer, H. E. Lona, F. R. Prostmeier, and J. Ulrich. (Series: Kommentar zu frühchristlichen Apologeten, KfA, Vol. 8). Verlag Herder: Freiburg u.a., 2001. ISBN 3-451-27679-8

 

WHAT OTHERS HAVE SAID

Puritan Lad
"Contrary to premillennial assumptions, Mathetes did not consider Judaism to be a “proof of election” or it practitioners to be “specially beloved by God”. Instead, Mathetes considered Judaism to be “a subject of ridicule”, and “a manifestation of folly”. If Mathetes believed in a future Jewish kingdom, he made no mention of it.

Mathetes also speaks of what appears to be the Neronic Persecution, following the statement that God “will yet send Him to judge us, and who shall endure His appearing”. (The Preterism of Mathetes)

What do YOU think ?

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Date:
26 Jan 2004
Time:
16:52:09

Comments

can someone just tell me who mathetes is, and what he did?



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