Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol II:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
ATHENAGORAS: Chapter III.—Charges Brought Against the Christians.
Chapter III.—Charges Brought Against the Christians.
Three things are alleged against us: atheism, Thyestean feasts, 706 Œdipodean intercourse. But if these charges are true, spare no class: proceed at once against our crimes; destroy us root and branch, with our wives and children, if any Christian 707 is found to live like the brutes. And yet even the brutes do not touch the flesh of their own kind; and they pair by a law of nature, and only at the regular season, not from simple wantonness; they also recognise those from whom they receive benefits. If any one, therefore, is more savage than the brutes, what punishment that he can endure shall be deemed adequate to such offences? But, if these things are only idle tales and empty slanders, originating in the fact that virtue is opposed by its very nature to vice, and that contraries war against one another by a divine law (and you are yourselves witnesses that no such iniquities are committed by us, for you forbid informations to be laid against us), it remains for you to make inquiry concerning our life, our opinions, our loyalty and obedience to you and your house and government, and thus at length to grant to us the same rights (we ask nothing more) as to those who persecute us. For we shall then conquer them, unhesitatingly surrendering, as we now do, our very lives for the truths sake.
[See cap. xxxi. Our Lord was “perfect man,” yet our author resents the idea of eating the flesh of ones own kind as worse than brutal. As to the Eucharist the inference is plain.]130:707
Thus Otto; others read, “if any one of men.”
Next: Chapter IV.—The Christians are Not Atheists, But Acknowledge One Only God.
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