A few weeks back, I wrote some quick thoughts on EpDiog 1. Now it's time to do the same thing for EpDiog 2.
EpDiog 1 started out with listing some distinctives of Christianity. EpDiog 2 changes course and differentiates paganism from Christianity. The author's primary argument against paganism involves the physical nature of the things pagans worship as gods. Here's EpDiog 2.3:
Are not all of these formed of destructible matter? Ar they not forged with iron and fire? Were they each not made by the sculptor, coppersmith, silversmith, and potter? Before they were shaped by these crafts into the form that each of them now has, could they not have been made into other forms — indeed, could they not be remade even now? And the utensils that we have now, which come from the same material: could they not be made like them, if they came into the hands of the same artisans?
The author inveighs against the physical properties of the things pagans worship as gods. These things are no different than any other thing made of the same material, he argues. You could melt them down or burn them, and they would either be consumed or reforged into something else. And this is the primary argument: In paganism, the gods are made by men. In Christianity, the men are made by God.
In paganism, whole trades have developed around the production of such gods for household use. They're listed above — sculptor, coppersmith, silversmith, potter. These people made their living, most likely, with a decent amount of their time and craft devoted to production of pagan or cultic items. Don't think so? Check out Acts 19.24-29, and note particularly the motiviation of the silversmiths in rallying against Christianity. Then, if you're so inclined, take a peek at 2Ti 4.14 and start to think about potential reasons that Alexander the coppersmith might've had for his strong (and harmful) opposition of Paul.
But in Christianity, God created and has control over men. Ro 9.19-24 reminds us of this.
The author next shows that the pagans respect of their own idols is dependent not on the so-called god, but rather on the stuff the idol is made of; and that this betrays the true feelings towards these so-called gods. Here's EpDiog 2.7:
But do you yourselves not show disdain for these gods, even while supposing and imagining that you praise them? Do you not much more ridicule and abuse them — worshiping the ones made of stone and clay without keeping close watch on them, but locking up those made of silver and gold, putting guards over them night and day to keep them from being stolen?
The author keeps up this line of argument until EpDiog 2.10 where he wraps things up with an argumentation style I'm not too fond of:
I could say many other things about why Christians do not serve such gods, but if someone supposes that these comments are not enough, I imagine saying anything more would be superfluous.
I don't like this sort of argument. It always strikes me as a bluff. If there are more things to say to convince Diognetus, why not say them? Or is this just a bluster of a conclusion? If you debate/argue with folks that use this line, you should call them on it and ask them to please bore you with their further so-called superfluous examples. I'd say that chances are, they don't have any, they're just trying to close their argument in a strong way.