rgprice wrote: ↑Sat Jan 21, 2023 10:24 am
None of that addresses my question. The statements in Aristides Ch 2 are quite orthodox. The scholarly consensus seems to be that they are authentic and date to 125.
What, exactly, are the arguments against this, and who makes them, aside from Doherty?
'Aristides of Athens', chapter 4 in Writing the History of Early Christianity: From Reception to Retrospection
, Cambridge University Press, 2019, by Markus Vinzent
Simpson, William A. 2017. Aristides’ ‘Apology’ and the novel ‘Barlaam and Ioasaph’
(Peeters Publishers: Leuven).
... my former PhD student, William Simpson...in his recently published thesis cautions...that 'the Greek text of Aristides’ Apology' cannot simply be taken for granted, as it "suffers from a fundamental problem in terms of its integrity," and he adds: "While Christian tradition situates the composition of this work in the second century, it is not attested by an extant Greek version that can be ascribed in its entirety to the second century," but appears for the first time in the eleventh century.
Although most scholars and textbooks portray and discuss the Apology as if it were a second-century text, the oldest known Christian Apology, during the writing of his PhD it soon became clear to Simpson that if the text did, indeed, date back to the second century, "it must have been reworked subsequently." To complicate the situation, the Greek text of this Apology only survived as part of a broader text, ‘the eleventh century novel entitled Barlaam and Ioasaph’ (B&I), and only in three tiny fourth-century fragments on papyrus, then in a Syriac translation from a seventh-century manuscript and in a short recension in Armenian that "derives from an Armenian manuscript that is dated to the year 981 A.D.." In his conclusion, Simpson summarises that Aristides’ Apology, as it has been preserved in the novel B&I, has ‘in places’ "suffered some alterations" through redaction, and that 'the Syriac has enlarged the Apology," so that one even might ask whether or not the Armenian version, which comprises only the first two chapters, represents the older text at least in its brevity, even though that version too has been reworked.
..< . . paragraph omitted . . >
Given the variations in the texts that our different ancient witnesses provide, Pouderon et al. in 2003 cautiously and wisely refrained from giving the reader a text that combines the readings of the various versions in one critical apparatus, rejecting the option ‘to assemble a puzzle of disparate elements, taken here from the one, there from another version, and thus to create an artificial, if not monstrous text that could never have existed as such, but could instead deeply mislead as to the wording or the structure of the original document’. Instead they published the different versions of the Apology separately, starting with the longest, the Syriac version, followed by the Greek version of the B&I, the Greek papyri, and then the Armenian version. These texts are followed by a commentary that covers all the given versions. In one of the appendices the editors also add the apologetic themes in the ancient Georgian martyrologies. Their disjunctive approach contrasts with older attempts that tried to create one text through the combination of the different versions.
Hence, it is admitted that the text of Aristides’ Apology can no longer be considered certain, and that it is unclear whether the text was dedicated to Hadrian or, which seems ‘more probable’, to his successor Antoninus Pius (138–161 CE), or perhaps to both. Pouderon set out the options that have been suggested so far. The first is the traditional one, based on Eusebius of Caesarea’s Church History and his Chronicle, the latter in Jerome’s Latin version suggesting the year 125 CE or, according to the Armenian version, the years 124/125. The second option, based on the double mention of Hadrian and Antoninus Pius in the Syriac opening of the Apology, gives as a composition date the end of Hadrian’s reign, but, because of Hadrian’s death, the work would have been presented to Antoninus Pius. The third option sees the note on Hadrian as a scribal error, as ‘Hadrian’ is also part of the name of the Imperator Caesar Titus Aelius Hadrianus Antoninus Pius Augustus (or Augustus Pius), and suggests his reign, more specifically the years 140–145 CE. Pouderon et al. themselves opt for the years 124/125 CE without entirely rejecting the possibility of a second redaction made under Antoninus Pius.
Even though, in their description of the historical circumstances and the literary and historic nature of the text, they work solely on the assumption of a Hadrianic dating of the Apology, taking at face value the reports of Eusebius in his Church History, they admit that, for example, the Hadrianic letter To Minucius Fundanus with his orders on how to deal with petitions against Christians is not referred to by Aristides, nor is there any noticeable mutual dependency. With regards to the nature of Aristides’ Apology they stress the epideictic character (to differentiate this as an ‘encomiastic’ and ‘reprobative’ genre from the other two Aristotelean and Stoic genres of ‘deliberative’ and ‘juridical’ discourses). The epideictic character they underline by pointing out that the text does not demand anything from the emperor, but reads like a fictive discourse or an ‘open letter’ … an apologetic work in form of a speech or in style of a letter, provoked by Hadrian’s visit to Athens and destined for the widest possible distribution both in the middle of the Christian community as well as in the pagan public, of which one hoped that the Emperor would read it to whom it was addressed and to whom one certainly made the effort to deliver a copy.
Pouderon et al. did not make use of Wolfram Kinzig’s study on Christian Apologies of the second century (by the way, all the early texts known as Christian Apologies derive from the time of late Hadrian to Marcus Aurelius), a work that discusses the Sitz im Leben of these texts, although they would have found some support for their opinions, regarding both dating and even the character of the work. After listing those earlier scholars who have taken Apologies as historic writings handed over to the emperor in order to protect Christians, and others who see in them a fictive literary product to prepare learned pagan circles for the Christian message, Kinzig deduces from the consistent semantics of these texts and their descriptions that these Apologies are writings in defence of Christianity against an existing accusation that had led to condemnation and conviction by the Roman authorities. And yet, when it comes to Aristides’ Apology, he notices that almost nothing can be deduced from this text with regards to its motivation or intention ...
A second work Pouderon et al. did not, indeed could not, consult, as it had not yet appeared, is the magnum opus of Robert Volk, his text critical edition of the B&I, published in the years 2006 and 2009 ... Now that we are in possession of this critical edition, together with Simpson’s assessment of the B&I with regards to the Apology, the most recent edition by Pouderon et al. would need a thorough revision ...
Thanks to Volk’s introduction and critical edition of the Greek Barlaam and Ioasaph, we are in a position to retrace and review the last centuries of the ‘life’ of the Apology, a most fascinating one. If we picked up only the ten appendices to his introduction to the B&I, we would see how various authors in different centuries have gone back to that novel, abbreviated, epitomised or condensed it (sometimes to six lines), retold it, turned it into hymns, liturgies, catechetical, didactic or parabolic material – most often without touching the text of the Apology as it appears in that novel. Two manuscripts of the sixteenth century, however, provide us with an excerpt from Aristides’ Apology with the catalogue of Greek gods from Kronos to Adonis, yet without Aristides’ negative comments about them, to which I will come back below. It is a great advantage that Volk edited not only the long narrative of the B&I itself, but also some of these variations on the theme of B&I, so one can hope that as well as seeing the non-use of the Apology, scholars will recognise the value not just of the ‘original’ novel, but also of the attempts at capturing what the story or elements of it meant to people of later centuries.
... As we can read today in Volk’s two volumes, his edition of the Greek text of Barlaam and Ioasaph and his introductory volume, B&I is published as part of the works of John of Damascus (c. 675/ 676– 749), although Volk ‘rightly’ marked this ascription of authorship to be ‘spurious’. As such the B&I reflects the long tradition that can be traced back to the year 1215 CE, as Gui de Cambrai (twelfth/ thirteenth century) composed a poem in 1215 CE stating that the B&I has been translated by John of Damascus. Michael of Antioch (thirteenth/ fourteenth century) more explicitly wrote about John of Damascus to credit him with the authorship of the B&I. Even though there are four other people by the name of ‘John’ who have been discussed as potential authors of the B&I, John of Damascus was the one favoured by most earlier scholars. In the late nineteenth century, Herman Zotenberg put forward views that became key to creating doubt over John of Damascus’ authorship.
Zotenberg argued in meticulous detail, both on stylistic grounds and in terms of content, against that view. First, the author of B&I draws on more sources than just works by John of Damascus. Further, the theology of B&I ‘significantly differs from the theology of John Damascene’: ‘[and] it is [rather] consistent with the dogma of the authors of the Eastern Orthodox Church of the sixth and seventh centuries, where ascetic doctrine occupied a dominant position’. Zotenberg concludes that B&I was written after the new doctrine in the East was produced in 620. Nevertheless, ‘when decades ago the monks of the Abbey of Scheyern planned a new critical edition of all works of John the Damascene, they still took this work to be from his pen, and Volk’s predecessor as editor, B. Kotter, decided to include it, but Volk, who took over Kotter’s task after the latter’s death, unwaveringly’ declared the work to be of ‘spurious’ nature.
The text of the Apology within the B&I had not been recognised until the year 1893, when the first of several discoveries were made. First Rendel Harris made the chance finding of a Syriac translation of the Apology in the monastery of St Catherine (‘ Sacred Monastery of the God-Trodden Mount Sinai’), at the foot of Mount Sinai, Egypt, and J.A. Robinson pointed to the B&I as a witness for the hitherto unrecognised Apology as part of this novel. The fact that the text was not noticed earlier is due to the fine work done by the translator and redactor Euthymius the Hagiorite (= the man from the Holy Mountain) (c.955–1028), when he translated a Georgian novel into Greek and bolstered it with a new piece, Aristides’ Apology, which became the core of the new form of the novel. The translation and redaction happened ‘around the year 985’ ...
... in the years 1925-6 ‘Robert Blake discovered a [Georgian] text [called the Balavariani] now known as Jerusalem 140’, which was ‘vastly important in piecing together the textual tradition of our Greek B&I’ ...
As we can see from the Balavariani, the Georgian novel was already Christian, and Euthymius might have been inspired by this passage of Nakhor denouncing ‘the idols and their acolytes and then [praising] the faith of the Christians and their sacred laws’ to make use of Aristides’ Apology, as the passage summarises quite well what the Apology provides ...
... that the B&I romance...bec[a]me a Muslim Arabic novel, apparently with Manichean elements, may be deduced from the criticism that even the poet Abān al-Lāhiqī, who used the story, had to face. To add to the cultural mix, the text must also have displayed a number of Buddhist elements, as these are still noticeable in the Georgian version that was used by Euthymius, and that brings us further back to the previous history of the tradition of this novel. All the early Arabic stories, even in their Manichean outlook, go further back to an Iranian novel that recounted the life of the Buddha ‘and purport to have been translated by Ibn al-Miqaffa’ (d. A.D. 759) or his successors’. The name of the protagonist in the Arabic text is Bilawhar, the teacher of the Buddha, who in the Balavariani, the Christianised Georgian version of this Buddha story, had become Balavar and was later further ‘garbled into [the Greek] Barlaam’. Bilawhar, though the teacher of Buddha, was no longer an ‘Indian’ figure, and the story was no longer a ‘Buddhist’ text in the strict sense, but had already been transformed into a Muslim text with Manichean leanings ...
... the reworking of the Apology by Euthymius has to make us cautious, not to rely too much on the Greek version that the B&I gives us ...
Why had Aristides been connected with Athens? We know that Athens rather than Rome was famous for philosophical learning during the second century, even though Rome became more important during the third century. At Athens during the times of Emperor Marcus Aurelius (161– 180) we read of four or eight philosophical chairs that had been created, one or two each for Stoicism, Epicurism, Platonism and Aristotelism. Even into the sixth century this city remains a stronghold for philosophical studies, with teachers who are often closely connected with those in Alexandria, even though none of the mentioned chairs seems to have survived the invasion of Athens by the barbaric Eruli in the year 267 CE. At the beginning of the fourth century CE, Eusebius of Caesarea tells us of only two masters in Athens, the Aristotelean Prosenes and the Stoic Callietes. Apparently all the other chairs had no future, even though students continued to flood the city to study rhetoric and philosophy. Hence, already Athens may have given Aristides and his Apology a certain aura of learning.
Vinzent, Markus. Writing the History of Early Christianity
, Cambridge University Press. Kindle Edition; pp. 205-216
There's another 40+ pages to that chapter ...
Starting with and including (but clearly not limited to):
An Historical Setting of the Apology: The Aftermath of Bar Kokhba
When reading Aristides’ Apology
today, we usually do so as if we had at hand the text of the first extant ‘Apology
’, written by a Christian who addresses the emperor. Arriving at it as we have after our journey through history, we read it in a different way, perhaps one that is more congruous with the content of the text.
Scholars, as mentioned before, have noticed that the Apology
does not easily fit the apologetic genre of a defence of Christians by petitioning the emperor to act on their behalf. Instead, Aristides’ Apology
in all extant versions is rather a reflection on and a presentation of what Christianity is and what Christianity is all about. The text tries to define Christians as being different from ‘Barbarians’, different from the ‘Greeks’, different from the ‘Jews’, and to show that they form a novel ‘race’ ...
The Origin and Nature of Christians
Even the most recent scholarship on Aristides’ Apology
assumes that we potentially know every word that Aristides wrote, but not what he said or how he said it, hence that nothing or at least not much of his text is lost, although the different versions can hardly be harmonised. It is, however, taken for granted that the longest version extant, the Syriac, gives us the original length of the text, even if in some places this text reflects later redactions. The shorter Greek text preserved by the B&I
seems an abbreviated version, given that the few Greek papyri fragments and also the Armenian rendering of Eznik attest to the longer version of the Syriac text, even though scholars argue that Eznik, just like the other unknown Armenian translator who provided us with the Armenian version of the Apology
, did not translate from Syriac, but from Greek ...
... That the short Armenian version could reflect the earlier stage of the Apology
is supported by the rather neglected two sixteenth-century manuscripts ... These two manuscripts provide us with the catalogue of Greek gods from Kronos to Adonis, as known from the longer version of Aristides’ Apology
, yet without any negative comment by Aristides ... it seems easier to assume that a pre-Christian catalogue of Greek gods had been used by the redactor of the Apology
to broaden this text, based on what was given by the first two chapters, as present in the Armenian translation ...
"... according to the Greek version of the Apology there are only three races of humanity: ‘those that are worshippers of them whom ye call gods, and Jews, and Christians’, whereas the Syriac and Armenian versions break the number of races of men into four (Barbarians, Greeks, Jews, and Christians) ..."
A Retrospective Lesson
Given the state of our witnesses, deriving from a range of times, languages and religious-cultural environments, any attempt at re-creating an ‘original’ text is futile, and has rightly been given up by the most recent editors of Aristides’ Apology
. Even though we might use this text with great caution when it comes to getting an insight into second-century Christianity, our retrospective journey has shown that instead of trying to get hold of this ‘second’-century text, we need to understand first not only our own perspectives and those of previous scholarship, but very importantly define and reflect upon the stages at which the Apology
was appropriated to serve purposes such as the re-orientation of the Buddhist– Manichean– Christian conversion novel of the Balavariani
. At this point we are reminded of where we started, and of our journey from Rome to Athens, with Raphael’s The School of Athens
in mind. Philosophy and religion had been brought closer by the integration of the Apology
into the conversion novel. It replaced the Balavariani’s conversion scenario of morality and threat with an appeal to Middle- and Neo-Platonic reflection ...
If one were to attempt to locate where and when Aristides’ Apology
was first written [or, perhaps, skeptically, where it was set], it seems to have been in the post-Bar Kokhba setting, where there was a need to distance oneself from the Jewish rebels and their Roman opponents, and it made sense to insist on being neither Jewish nor Greek, neither Barbarian nor Egyptian, but to define oneself instead as a third (or fourth) group (without openly criticising the Romans) ...
a selected Bibliography
Pouderon, Bernard, Marie-Joseph Pierre and Bernard Outtier. 2000. ‘À propos de l’Apologie d’Aristide. Recherches sur un prototype commun aux versions syriaque et arménienne’, Recherches de science religieuse
: 173– 93.
Simpson, William A. 2017. Aristides’ ‘Apology’ and the novel ‘Barlaam and Ioasaph’
(Peeters Publishers: Leuven).
Volk, Robert. 2006. Die Schriften des Johannes von Damaskos. Band VI/ 2: Historia animae utilis de Barlaam et Ioasaph (spuria). Text und zehn Appendices
(Walter de Gruyter: Berlin).
Volk, Robert. 2009. Die Schriften des Johannes von Damaskos. Band VI/ 1: Historia animae utilis de Barlaam et Ioasaph (spuria) – Einführung
(Walter de Gruyter: Berlin).
Zotenberg, Herman. 1887. ‘Notice sur le livre de Barlaam et Josaph’, Notices et extraits des mss. de la Bibliothèque Nationale 28
: 1– 166.