The Epistle to Diognetus: An unknown author of early Christian writing
“I am not talking of anything new or strange, or raising any new questions. Although I am an instructor of the Gentiles now, I was a pupil of the Apostles once; and what was delivered to me then, I now minister faithfully to students of the truth.”
“For in that garden are planted both the Tree of Knowledge and the Tree of Life – for it is not the Tree of Knowledge that causes death; the deadly thing is disobedience.”
These excerpts are taken from the final part of an epistle written by a pupil of an Apostle in about 130 AD. It is considered reasonable to imagine that this unknown author of The Epistle to Diognetus was instructed by St. John the Apostle as other Christian writers of the period such as St. Ignatius of Antioch also knew this beloved Apostle of Christ. It might be of interest to note that scholarly opinion favours St. Paul and it is he who is considered most likely to have instructed the writer of the aforementioned epistle. The thing is this seems strange to me since St. Paul is believed to have been martyred in 67 AD which would mean that the writer of an epistle would have to be a very old man indeed (130 AD) and although this is possible I am not convinced. St. John died in 100 AD and is nearer to what can be deduced as the most likely influence in the writing of this unknown author. It is fitting, therefore, that this letter was later discovered by an Italian student who had travelled to Constantinople in 1435 AD to study Greek. The discovery was made when he noticed a pile of packing paper while visiting a fish market in the city. The original manuscript was destroyed in the Franco-Prussian war in 1870 AD but by this time further editions had been made which record, in the original Greek, this fascinating early Christian document. Incidentally, faith and prayer can and do overcome disobedience.
Blog inspired by reading The Epistle to Diognetus featured in Early Christian Writings, published by Penguin Classics.