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Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol I:
The Church History of Eusebius.: Chapter III

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter III.—The Apologists that wrote in Defense of the Faith during the Reign of Adrian.

1. After Trajan had reigned for nineteen and a half years 982 Ælius Adrian became his successor in the empire. To him Quadratus addressed a discourse containing an apology for our religion, 983 because certain wicked men 984 had attempted to trouble the Christians. The work is still in the hands of a great many of the brethren, as also in our own, and furnishes clear proofs of the man’s understanding and of his apostolic orthodoxy. 985

2. He himself reveals the early date at which he lived in the following words: “But the works of our Saviour were always present, 986 for they were genuine:—those that were healed, and those that were raised from the dead, who were seen not only when they were healed and when they were raised, but were also always present; and not merely while the Saviour was on earth, but also after his death, they were alive for quite a while, so that some of them lived even to our day.” 987 Such then was Quadratus.

3. Aristides also, a believer earnestly devoted to our religion, left, like Quadratus, an apology for the faith, addressed to Adrian. 988 His work, too, has been preserved even to the present day by a great many persons.



Trajan reigned from Jan. 27, 98, to Aug. 7 or 8, 117.


The importance of Quadratus’ Apology in the mind of Eusebius is shown by his beginning the events of Hadrian’s reign with it, as well as by the fact that he gives it also in his Chronicle, year 2041 of Abraham (124 to 125 a.d.), where he calls Quadratus “Auditor Apostolorum.” Eusebius gives few events in his Chronicle, and therefore the reference to this is all the more significant. We find no mention of Quadratus and Aristides before Eusebius, and of the Apology of Quadratus we have only the few lines which are given in this chapter. In the Chronicle Eusebius says that Quadratus and Aristides addressed apologies to Hadrian during his stay in Athens. One ms. of the Chronicle gives the date as 125 a.d. (2141 Abr.), and this is correct; for, according to Dürr (Die Reisen des Kaisers Hadrian, Wien, 1881, p. 42 to 44, and 70 to 71), Hadrian was in Athens from the fall of 125 to the summer of 126 and from the spring of 129 to the spring of 130. Eusebius adds in his Chronicle (but omits here) that these apologies were the cause of a favorable edict from Hadrian, but this is incorrect. Eusebius (IV. 12) makes a similar statement in regard to the Apology of Justin, making a favorable edict (which has been proved to be unauthentic) of the Emperor Antoninus the result of it. (See Overbeck, Studien zur Geschichte der alten Kirche, I. 108 sq., 139.) Quadratus and Aristides are the oldest apologists known to us. Eusebius does not mention them again. This Quadratus must not be confounded with Quadratus, bishop of Athens in the time of Marcus Aurelius, who is mentioned in chap. 23; for the apologist Quadratus who belonged to the time of the apostles can hardly have been a bishop during the reign of Marcus Aurelius. Nor is there any decisive ground to identify him with the prophet mentioned in Bk. III. chap. 37 and Bk. V. chap. 7, for Quadratus was a very common name, and the prophet and the apologist seem to have belonged to different countries (see Harnack, Ueberlieferung der griech. Apol. p. 103). Many scholars, however, identify the prophet and the apologist, and it must be said that Eusebius’ mention of the prophet in III. 37, and of the apologist in IV. 3, without any qualifying phrases, looks as if one well-known Quadratus were referred to. The matter must remain undecided. Jerome speaks of Quadratus and Aristides once in the Chronicle, year 2142, and in de vir. ill. chap. 19 and 20. In chap. 19 he identifies Quadratus, the apologist, and Quadratus, the bishop of Athens, but he evidently had no other source than Eusebius (as was usually the case, so that he can very rarely be accepted as an independent witness), and his statements here are the result simply of a combination of his own. The later scattering traditions in regard to Quadratus and Aristides (chiefly in the Martyrologies) rest probably only upon the accounts of Eusebius and Jerome, and whatever enlargement they offer is untrustworthy. The Apology of Quadratus was perhaps extant at the beginning of the seventh century; see Photius, Cod. 162. One later tradition made Quadratus the angel of Philadelphia, addressed in the Apocalypse; another located him in Magnesia (this Otto accepts). Either tradition might be true, but one is worth no more than the other. Compare Harnack, Die Ueberlieferung der griech. Apol., and Otto, Corpus Apol. Christ. IX. p. 333 sq.


This phrase is very significant, as showing the idea of Eusebius that the persecutions did not proceed from the emperors themselves, but were the result of the machinations of the enemies of the Christians.


ὀρθοτομία. Compare the use of ὀρθομοῦντα in 2 Tim. ii. 15.


The fragment begins τοῦ δὲ σωτῆρος ἡμῶν τὰ žργα ἀεὶ παρῆν. The δὲ seems to introduce a contrast, and allows us to assume with some measure of assurance that an exposure of the pretended wonders of heathen magicians, who were numerous at that time, preceded this ocular proof of the genuineness of Christ’s miracles.


Quadratus had evidently seen none of these persons himself; he had simply heard of them through others. We have no record elsewhere of the fact that any of those raised by Christ lived to a later age.


Aristides of Athens, a contemporary of Quadratus, is called by Eusebius in his Chronicle “a philosopher” (nostri dogmatis philosophus Atheniensis). Eusebius does not quote his work, perhaps because he did not himself possess a copy, perhaps because it contained no historical matter suitable to his purpose. He does not mention him again (the Aristides, the friend of Africanus, of Bk. I. chap. 7 and of Bk. VI. chap. 31, lived a century later), and his Apology is quoted by none of the Fathers, so far as is known. Vague and worthless traditions of the Middle Ages still kept his name alive, as in the case of Quadratus, but the Apology itself disappeared long ago, until in 1878 a fragment of an Apology, bearing the name of “Aristides, the Philosopher of Athens,” was published by the Mechitarists from a codex of the year 981. It is a fragment of an Armenian translation of the fifth century; and although its genuineness has been denied, it is accepted by most critics, and seems to be an authentic fragment from the age of Hadrian. See especially Harnack, ibid. p. 109 sq., and again in Herzog, 2d ed., Supplement Vol. p. 675–681; also Schaff, Ch. Hist. II. p. 709.

Next: Chapter IV

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