Quadratus The Obscure

By far the most obscure of the Apostolic Fathers is Quadratus, of whom one Christian site [1] says the following:

“Quadratus is spoken of by Eusebius as a “man of understanding and of Apostolic faith.” And he celebrates Aristides as a man of similar character. These were the earliest apologists; both addressed their writings to Hadrian, and they were extant and valued in the churches in the time of Eusebius.

From the Apology for the Christian Religion:

Our Saviour’s works, moreover, were always present: for they were real, consisting of those who had been healed of their diseases, those who had been raised from the dead; who were not only seen whilst they were being healed and raised up, but were afterwards constantly present. Nor did they remain only during the sojourn of the Saviour on earth, but also a considerable time after His departure; and, indeed, some of them have survived even down to our own times.”

Indeed, the above fragment that was written to the emperor Hadrian is the only text that survives from that Apostolic father at all.  There are some who argue that Qudratas, like Mathetes [2], does not belong in the Apostolic Fathers at all, since it cannot be reasonably claimed that he knew any of the Apostles or was able to transmit their teaching or be a witness to them, but on those grounds few of the Apostolic Fathers would qualify as genuinely post-Apostolic.  Instead, these people would consider Quadratus among the early apologists like Justin Martyr and others.  Wherever these apologies belong, the fragment of Quadratus is certainly notable and worthwhile, and Quadratus is credited by Eusebius for convincing Hadrian to cease his persecution of Christians, so the apology must in some sense have worked for the benefit of believers, even if it did not convert him into Christian faith.

Given that Quadratus was writing during the time of Hadrian, it is especially intriguing that he mentions that some of the people resurrected through Jesus Christ were still alive and thus eyewitnesses and participants in His miracles.  Given also that this fragment is so short one wonders what exactly does he mean.  Does he mean that some of those who were healed or restored to life by Jesus Christ were still alive at the time of Hadrian or that they were still alive at the time of Quadratus’ memory.  Given that Hadrian began his reign about 117AD or so, and Jesus Christ was crucified and resurrected between 31 and 34AD, that would mean that the people involved, if they had been children, would have been between 80 and 90.  This is certainly old for the ancient world, but by no means unheard of.  Anna lived to be at least 84 and the Apostle John lived well into his 90’s given his writings while in exile in Patmos.  Whatever Quadratus means is quote plausible.

Indeed, Quadratus’ comment seems to echo that of Paul, who similarly appealed to the presence of witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8:  “For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve.  After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep.  After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles.  Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.”  We can see that Paul’s statement rests on the appeal of hundreds of eyewitnesses who could corroborate his claim as to the absolute reality of resurrection, and the fact that Quadratus is able to make a similar claim indicates that the memory of Jesus’ healings and the presence of those who had been healed or raised was long evidence of that, and that these people were quick to pass along their recollections to those who wanted to hear about them, given that an obscure figure like Quadratus was aware of such things.  The fact that both Paul and Quadratus are able to point to actual witnesses and participants in the miracles of Jesus Christ is among the strongest pieces of evidence that early Christian apologists and evangelists were able to use in spreading Christianity through the ancient world, and that evidence is still mighty testimony today.  If you are making a claim that would be contested and that others would be happy to debunk, to be able to point to a large amount of witnesses who would be able to corroborate the claim is still something that is highly respected even in our own deeply cynical times.  Why else do companies seek testimonials, after all, if personal experience and personal testimony of one’s own experiences was meaningless.  The fact that such things are sought indicates that they are still valued as they clearly were in the ancient world.

Given that we only have a small fragment of his apology to the emperor Hadrian, it is hard to assess the writings of Quadratus as a whole.  It is easy to lament the fact that the rest of the work was absent, because to appeal to eyewitness and participant testimony concerning the miraculous actions of Jesus Christ surely seems a more effective appeal to ancient and modern readers than the appeals of, say, Mathetes in his epistle to Diognetus with his insulting treatment of other belief systems.  That said, it is impossible to know for certain whether this positive appeal to testimony that can corroborate the author’s claims is characteristic and representative of Quadratus’ writings as a whole without the remainder of those writings.  At any rate, whether or not the fragment of Quadratus’ apology belongs with the Apostolic Fathers or with a collection of early apologists for the Christian faith, it is certainly a worthwhile approach in apologetics, considering that variations of the same claim are still made by noted and successful apologists to this day, almost two thousand years later.  For that reason alone, if no other, we should give at least some praise to Quadratus the obscure, even if so little is now known of him or his writings.

[1] http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/quadratus.html

[2] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2018/04/10/a-middle-ground-between-two-extremes-examining-the-false-dilemma-of-the-epistle-to-diognetus-towards-judaism/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2018/04/06/a-brief-review-of-the-argumentation-of-the-epistle-to-diognetus/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2018/04/05/real-and-fictive-audience-in-the-epistle-to-diognetus/

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Bible, Biblical History, Christianity, History, Musings. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Quadratus The Obscure

  1. Pingback: An Introduction To The Apostolic Fathers Series | Edge Induced Cohesion

  2. Pingback: The Legend Of The Phoenix In The Epistle Of 1 Clement | Edge Induced Cohesion

  3. Pingback: You Had The Right Idea | Edge Induced Cohesion

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