dimecres, 16 de desembre del 2009

Christians in the world

The letter from Mathetes to Digonetus is an amazing work of apologetics in the greek context of the second century. After talking about the nonsense of worshiping statues as gods, and commenting on jewish practices the author moves to talk about the manners of christians and their religion. Here is a fragment:

The Christians in the world 

"Christians are indistinguishable from other men either by nationality, language or customs. They do not inhabit separate cities of their own, or speak a strange dialect, or follow some outlandish way of life. Their teaching is not based upon reveries inspired by the curiosity of men. Unlike some other people, they champion no purely human doctrine. With regard to dress, food and manner of life in general, they follow the customs of whatever city they happen to be living in, whether it is Greek or foreign. 

And yet there is something extraordinary about their lives. They live in their own countries as though they were only passing through. They play their full role as citizens, but labor under all the disabilities of aliens. Any country can be their homeland, but for them their homeland, wherever it may be, is a foreign country. Like others, they marry and have children, but they do not expose them. They share their meals, but not their wives.  

They live in the flesh, but they are not governed by the desires of the flesh. They pass their days upon earth, but they are citizens of heaven. Obedient to the laws, they yet live on a level that transcends the law. Christians love all men, but all men persecute them. Condemned because they are not understood, they are put to death, but raised to life again. They live in poverty, but enrich many; they are totally destitute, but possess an abundance of everything. They suffer dishonor, but that is their glory. They are defamed, but vindicated. A blessing is their answer to abuse, deference their response to insult. For the good they do they receive the punishment of malefactors, but even then they, rejoice, as though receiving the gift of life. They are attacked by the Jews as aliens, they are persecuted by the Greeks, yet no one can explain the reason for this hatred. 

To speak in general terms, we may say that the Christian is to the world what the soul is to the body.  [ ....]

Christians love those who hate them just as the soul loves the body and all its members despite the body's hatred. It is by the soul, enclosed within the body, that the body is held together, and similarly, it is by the Christians, detained in the world as in a prison, that the world is held together. The soul, though immortal, has a mortal dwelling place; and Christians also live for a time amidst perishable things, while awaiting the freedom from change and decay that will be theirs in heaven. As the soul benefits from the deprivation of food and drink, so Christians flourish under persecution. Such is the Christian’s lofty and divinely appointed function, from which he is not permitted to excuse himself."

Christians are like salt that makes food to be good. Or in worlds of the letter, christians are to the world like the soul is to the body!  

Other interesting things are said in this letter about the atonement of Chist and the spiritual life, but I may comment on them another day. I just mention one sentence:

as a Saviour He [God] sent Him [Jesus], and as seeking to persuade, not to compel us; for violence has no place in the character of God. 

Note: In an early version of this post, there were no comments of mine, and only a copypasted text from the vatican archive webpage. This arose some criticism  (see first two comments) which I partially addressed here by commenting on the letter. 

3 comentaris:

  1. Estas demostrant una falta de idees literaries ja que sembla que no trobis cap tema en CATALÀ per posar al bloc, i així per emplenar fas servir un copy paste.

  2. Gràcies Silveri pel teu comentari.

    Com podràs comprovar pel subtítol del blog i la barra lateral, des del començament aquest bloc ha estat pensat per ser en català i en anglès. Si només vols posts en català pots seleccionar aquesta llengua.

    Respecte les idees literàries accepto la crítica, encara que la veritat és que tinc uns quatre temes interessants mig enbastats com a esborranys, però escriure'ls bé i posar les cites corresponents vol temps, i aquest és el que no tinc gaire, així que estic a mitges.

    Per altra banda la Carta a Diognet sempre la he trobat molt interessant, i és citada tres cops al Concili Vaticà II. Un dia proper espero llegir-la en grec. M'ha semblat adequat compartir un tros amb els meus lectors.

    Aquest bloc està començant així que s'accepten de gust tots els comentaris constructius. Potser m'hauria de plantejar escriure més tal com raja enlloc dels posts que tinc més en ment. Bé, l'estil del blog s'anirà construint amb el temps.

  3. Doncs jo et felicito pel blog.

    I si fem servir tranquilament "copy & paste" potser tampoc costa tant de comprendre el sentit general d'un escrit per altra banda força conegut com és aquesta carta de Diognet.