You Had The Right Idea

I must admit that like everyone else who has ever heard
of you, and sadly, it must be admitted, there are not many
who have heard of you these days, I would like to know
more about you and more about what you wrote.  How
did you end up convincing Emperor Hadrian to cease
his persecution of Christians, at least for a while?  All we
know of your writing is that you made an appeal to the
eye-witnesses of the resurrection of Jesus Christ that were
still alive at the time, and admittedly, some of them must
have been pretty old–or rather, all of them were quite
old because they would have had to have been over 80
years old to have remembered seeing the risen Christ
during those 40 days He was on the earth between
Passover and shortly before Pentecost.  Even so, it must
have been quite a coup for you to have done what so
few apologists have been able to manage despite their
many efforts, and that is actually changing someone’s
mind.  For that alone, we praise you, Quadratus, and
for that alone I would like to talk to you and see what
else you managed to write in your apologetic work that
we simply have not managed to preserve to this day.  I
hope you do not mind that a comparatively obscure
person like myself would care to know someone like
yourself, even if you are scarcely less obscure than I am
these days.


Admittedly, Quadratus [1] is known for only two things where he is known at all.  According to what has been passed down from history, his apologetic efforts to the second-century Roman Emperor Hadrian that appealed to the eyewitness testimony of those who had seen Jesus Christ resurrected convinced Hadrian to cease persecuting Christians.  He is also noted for being among the most obscure if not the most obscure of the Apostolic Fathers (except perhaps the unknown author of 2 Clement or the anonymous author(s) of the Didache, about whom we know little).  That combination of having had a notable role to play in history and the fact that this role has been little remembered in the intervening years puts Quadratus in an unusual place.  He is someone who should be immensely respected, as few apologetic works have played a role in history or in actually changing people’s minds (perhaps only C.S. Lewis or someone of his caliber like G.K. Chesterton can be seen as a real apologetic superstar in our own age where many such works are written), but because little is recorded about him and only a small fragment of his writings has survived, he is someone about whom we know almost nothing.  And it is that gap between the historical due that is owed him and the small amount that he has been given his due that makes Quadratus a poignant figure more than most from this era.

After all, we have the writings of another obscure apologist in Mathetes, whose epistle to Diognetus is available nearly in its entirety, and it is a decidedly inferior effort that may not have been a persuasive enough apologetic work to convince even its author.  Now, about Diognetus himself much can be said already, but it is notable at least that the ostensible purpose of writing an apologetic work is to make a defense of one’s own beliefs.  Although I do not consider myself a particularly skilled writer in this genre, I have been known to write in defense of my own character or my own conduct and my own belief systems and institutional loyalties.  I suppose the range of my own efforts can express the range that other writers have seen.  Some of my writings in this genre encouraged those who already shared my beliefs and loyalties but deeply offended those who did not share them.  That is a common fate in this genre, I think, and one I certainly share myself.  In addition, some of my defenses remain terribly obscure, and some of them may have actually done me harm by bringing to mind things that people had not thought of before until I thought it necessary to defend myself from them.  I suspect this is a common issue when it comes to the writing of apologetics, that sometimes people do not realize that something needs to be defended until they read someone making a defense of something they had never even thought about before.

It should be noted as well that Hadrian was not necessarily the easiest person to convince when it came to religious sensitivity.  His lack of sensitivity to the Jews in seeking to obliterate the memory of the Jewish settlement and occupation of Jerusalem led to a furious revolt, the Bar Kosiba revolt, that lasted for three years and ended up in even more estrangement between Jews and Christians than had previously existed and more serious consequences for Jews in terms of their embattled settlement of the promised land.  Indeed, other writers from the period like the Barnabas of the Epistle of Barnabas half expected the Jews to rebuild the temple, although they have been unable to do so until this day despite their frequent plans to do so throughout the course of history and especially after their conquest of Eastern Jerusalem and the West Bank as a whole in 1967.  For Hadrian to have been moved by an apologetic appeal was by no means an easy task, and Quadratus’ skill at appealing to him is something that deserves to be better recognized and appreciated and even emulated when one is representing an embattled community of believers.  Whether or not Quadratus is really an Apostolic Father or an early Apologist or both, for him to have known people who saw the resurrected Christ, or even to have known of their continued survival in the second century, suggests that some sort of informal channel of stories continued for many decades after the resurrection of Jesus Christ and even the death of the first generation of leaders of the Church of God.

[1] See, for example:

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 Christianity, Church of God, History, Musings and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to You Had The Right Idea

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

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