Someone is watching out for me. Indirectly, someone who had received a review copy of this book from Oxford contacted me and asked if I would instead review the book on my blog. I am only too happy to do so. You know who you are, and I am grateful for your generosity.
This book is one of three volumes published thus far in the Oxford Apostolic Fathers series, the other two volumes being Second Clement and Polycarp to the Philippians with the Martrydom of Polycarp. I have read and devoured the volume on Second Clement, and it is impressive. I have not yet had the opportunity of reading the volume on Polycarp’s works.
I have read a large portion of the introduction already, and it is stellar. Jefford provides a detailed history of the single (now lost) manuscript and its transcriptions and editions. I don’t know how many posts I’ll write on this one; it may only be one post. But the edition is stellar (thus far, anyway) and will be the volume to consult for those who work with the text of Diognetus in the future.
Here is some information about the book:
- Title: The Epistle to Diognetus (with the Fragment of Quadratus): Introduction, Text, and Commentary
- Author/Editor: Clayton N. Jefford
- Series: Oxford Apostolic Fathers
- Publisher: Oxford University Press
- Pages: ix, 281
- Indices: Ancient Sources, pp. 265–278; Modern Authors Cited, pp. 279–281
- Bibliography: pp. 257–264
Here’s the blurb from the publisher:
This volume is the first major English-language commentary on the Epistle to Diognetus since that of Henry G. Meecham in 1949. Its purpose is twofold: to provide careful consideration to the essential introductory issues of authorship and setting, structure and integrity, theology, relationship to scripture, and historical trajectory as they apply to the transmission of the text; and to offer commentary focused on the movement of the author's argument and objectives in construction of the narrative, taking advantage of critical considerations of the apology within recent scholarship. In the final analysis the volume arrives at the premise that the core materials of Diognetus were likely delivered first in an oral context whose setting remains unknown and were thereafter recorded by a later hand as the framework of chapters 1-10. A subsequent editor (perhaps Clement of Alexandria) added the concluding materials of chapters 11-12 together with the insertion of numerous hymnic segments and theological phrases throughout chapters 1-10. These additions were inspired by Johannine tradition and reflect the setting of a living faith community. The text of Diognetus thus reflects an evolutionary process that moves from oral performance to literary record, from moral teaching to theological homily. The format of the volume is designed to welcome the non-specialist to the text of Diognetus while exposing the reader to the best of both earlier and more recent critical comments on the writing and its tradition.
Table of Contents
- I: Introduction
- 1. General Background
- 2. Authorship, Date, and Provenance
- 3. Structural Elements
- 4. Integrity and Purpose
- 5. Theology and Themes
- 6. Relationship to Scripture
- 7. Analysis of Historical Trajectory
- 8. Conclusions
- II: Texts and Translations
- 9. Introduction
- 10. Epistle to Diognetus
- 11. Fragment of Quadratus
- III: Commentary
Other material: A few years back, I worked through the Epistle to Diognetus on the blog. You can find links to the necessary posts here:
When I worked through the text, I was more likely to think that Diog 11-12 were a separate document. After reading Hill’s defense of their unity, however, I’m not so sure.
Also note, I have read the previous critical edition of Diognetus in English, the work of H.G. Meecham. I blogged about the story behind how I acquired that volume, nearly 10 years ago now.