As Christianity becomes less dominant in Western culture, we will increasingly have much to learn from the theology of the early Christians, who lived and bore witness to Christ in an empire they didn’t control.
If you need to be convinced of the relevance of the early Christians for today, I highly recommend Alan Kreider’s book The Patient Ferment of the Early Church. If, on the other hand, you want to immerse yourself in early Christian theology, here are ten classic from the first four centuries of the church that are available as FREE ebooks!
The Epistle of Mathetes to Diognetus
|The Epistle of Mathetes to Diognetus is an example of Christian apologetics, writings defending Christianity against the charges of its critics. The Greek writer and recipient are not otherwise known. Estimates of dating based on the language and other textual evidence have ranged from AD 130 (which would make it one of the earliest examples of apologetic literature), to the late 2nd century, with the latter often preferred in modern scholarship.The text itself does not identify the author. The word “mathetes” is the Greek word for “student” or “disciple,” and it appears only once in the text, when the author calls himself a “student of the Apostles.” Hence it is not a proper name at all, and its use in the title is strictly conventional. The writer, whoever he or she was, sounds to many like a Johannine Christian, inasmuch as he uses the word “Logos” as a substitute for “Christ” or “Jesus.”
Nothing is known either about its recipient, Diognetus. It is likely that he was the tutor of the same name to the emperor Marcus Aurelius, It is entirely possible that we have a fictitious character , since the name “Diognetus,” means “God-born” in Greek (this is someone’s opinion – it makes perfect sense that Diognetus was a real person as Apologies were abundant during this era, particularly that of the Christian Apologists). (via Wikipedia)
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Reading for the Common Good
From ERB Editor Christopher Smith
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