Thursday, March 25, 2010

Epistle to Diognetus: THE CHRISTIAN WAY

http://www.ellopos.net/elpenor/greek-texts/fathers/diognetus-christian-manners.asp

Χριστιανῶν βίος


Χριστιανοὶ γὰρ οὔτε γῇ οὔτε φωνῇ οὔτε ἔθεσι διακεκριμένοι τῶν λοιπῶν εἰσιν ἀνθρώπων. Οὔτε γάρ που πόλεις ἰδίας κατοικοῦσιν οὔτε διαλέκτῳ τινὶ παρηλλαγμένῃ χρῶνται οὔτε βίον παράσημον ἀσκοῦσιν. Οὐ μὴν ἐπινοίᾳ τινὶ καὶ φροντίδι πολυπραγμόνων ἀνθρώπων μάθημα τοῦτ΄ αὐτοῖς ἐστὶν εὑρημένον͵ οὐδὲ δόγματος ἀνθρωπίνου προεστᾶσιν ὥσπερ ἔνιοι. Κατοικοῦντες δὲ πόλεις Ἑλληνίδας τε καὶ βαρβάρους ὡς ἕκαστος ἐκληρώθη͵ καὶ τοῖς ἐγχωρίοις ἔθεσιν ἀκολουθοῦντες ἔν τε ἐσθῆτι καὶ διαίτῃ καὶ τῷ λοιπῷ βίῳ͵ θαυμαστὴν καὶ ὁμολογουμένως παράδοξον ἐνδείκνυνται τὴν κατάστασιν τῆς ἑαυτῶν πολιτείας. Πατρίδας οἰκοῦσιν ἰδίας͵ ἀλλ΄ ὡς πάροικοι· μετέχουσι πάντων ὡς πολῖται͵ καὶ πανθ΄ ὑπομένουσιν ὡς ξένοι· πᾶσα ξένη πατρίς ἐστιν αὐτῶν͵ καὶ πᾶσα πατρὶς ξένη. Γαμοῦσιν ὡς πάντες͵ τεκνογονοῦσιν· ἀλλ΄ οὐ ῥίπτουσι τὰ γεννώμενα.

Τράπεζαν κοινὴν παρατίθενται͵ ἀλλ΄ οὐ κοίτην. Ἐν σαρκὶ τυγχάνουσιν͵ ἀλλ΄ οὐ κατὰ σάρκα ζῶσιν. Ἐπὶ γῆς διατρίβουσιν͵ ἀλλ΄ ἐν οὐρανῷ πολιτεύονται. Πείθονται τοῖς ὡρισμένοις νόμοις͵ καὶ τοῖς ἰδίοις βίοις νικῶσι τοὺς νόμους. Ἀγαπῶσι πάντας καὶ ὑπὸ πάντων διώκονται. Ἀγνοοῦνται καὶ κατακρίνονται· θανατοῦνται καὶ ζωοποιοῦνται. Πτωχεύουσι καὶ πλουτίζουσι πολλούς· πάντων ὑστεροῦνται καὶ ἐν πᾶσι περισσεύουσιν. Ἀτιμοῦνται καὶ ἐν ταῖς ἀτιμίαις δοξάζονται· βλασφημοῦνται καὶ δικαιοῦνται. Λοιδοροῦνται καὶ εὐλογοῦσιν· ὑβρίζονται καὶ τιμῶσιν. Ἀγαθοποιοῦντες ὡς κακοὶ κολάζονται· κολαζόμενοι χαίρουσιν ὡς ζωοποιούμενοι. Ὑπὸ Ἰουδαίων ὡς ἀλλόφυλοι πολεμοῦνται͵ καὶ ὑπὸ Ἑλλήνων διώκονται͵ καὶ τὴν αἰτίαν τῆς ἔχθρας εἰπεῖν οἱ μισοῦντες οὐκ ἔχουσιν.


Ἁπλῶς δ΄ εἰπεῖν͵ ὅπερ ἐστὶν ἐν σώματι ψυχή͵ τοῦτ΄ εἰσὶν ἐν κόσμῳ Χριστιανοί. Ἔσπαρται κατὰ πάντων τῶν τοῦ σώματος μελῶν ἡ ψυχή͵ καὶ Χριστιανοὶ κατὰ τὰς τοῦ κόσμου πόλεις. Οἰκεῖ μὲν ἐν τῷ σώματι ψυχή͵ οὐκ ἔστι δὲ ἐκ τοῦ σώματος· καὶ Χριστιανοὶ ἐν κόσμῳ οἰκοῦσιν͵ οὐκ εἰσὶ δὲ ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου. Ἀόρατος ἡ ψυχὴ ἐν ὁρατῷ φρουρεῖται τῷ σώματι· καὶ Χριστιανοὶ γινώσκονται μὲν ὄντες ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ͵ ἀόρατος δὲ αὐτῶν ἡ θεοσέβεια μένει. Μισεῖ τὴν ψυχὴν ἡ σὰρξ καὶ πολεμεῖ μηδὲν ἀδικουμένη͵ δίοτι ταῖς ἡδοναῖς κωλύεται χρῆσθαι· μισεῖ καὶ Χριστιανοὺς ὁ κόσμος μηδὲν ἀδικούμενος͵ ὅτι ταῖς ἡδοναῖς ἀντιτάσσονται.

Ἡ ψυχὴ τὴν μισοῦσαν ἀγαπᾷ σάρκα καὶ τὰ μέλη· καὶ Χριστιανοὶ τοὺς μισοῦντας ἀγαπῶσιν. Ἐγκέκλεισται μὲν ἡ ψυχὴ τῷ σώματι͵ συνέχει δὲ αὐτὴ τὸ σῶμα· καὶ Χριστιανοὶ κατέχονται μὲν ὡς ἐν φρουρᾷ τῷ κόσμῳ͵ αὐτοὶ δὲ συνέχουσι τὸν κόσμον. Ἀθάνατος ἡ ψυχὴ ἐν θνητῷ σκηνώματι κατοικεῖ· καὶ Χριστιανοὶ παροικοῦσιν ἐν φθαρτοῖς͵ τὴν ἐν οὐρανοῖς ἀφθαρσίαν προσδεχόμενοι. Κακουργουμένη σιτίοις καὶ ποτοῖς ἡ ψυχὴ βελτιοῦται· καὶ Χριστιανοὶ κολαζόμενοι καθ΄ ἡμέραν πλεονάζουσι μᾶλλον. Εἰς τοσαύτην αὐτοὺς τάξιν ἔθετο ὁ Θεός͵ ἣν οὐ θεμιτὸν αὐτοῖς παραιτήσασθαι.

FOR the Christians are distinguished from other men neither by country, nor language, nor the customs which they observe. For they neither inhabit cities of their own, nor employ a peculiar form of speech, nor lead a life which is marked out by any singularity. The course of conduct which they follow has not been devised by any speculation or deliberation of inquisitive men; nor do they, like some, proclaim themselves the advocates of any merely human doctrines. But, inhabiting Greek as well as barbarian cities, according as the lot of each of them has determined, and following the customs of the natives in respect to clothing, food, and the rest of their ordinary conduct, they display to us their wonderful and confessedly striking method of life. They dwell in their own countries, but simply as sojourners. As citizens, they share in all things with others, and yet endure all things as if foreigners. Every foreign land is to them as their native country, and every land of their birth as a land of strangers. They marry, as do all [others]; they beget children; but they do not destroy their offspring.


They have a common table, but not a common bed. They are in the flesh, but they do not live after the flesh. They pass their days on earth, but they are citizens of heaven. They obey the prescribed laws, and at the same time surpass the laws by their lives. They love all men, and are persecuted by all. They are unknown and condemned; they are put to death, and restored to life. They are poor, yet make many rich; they are in lack of all things, and yet abound in all; they are dishonoured, and yet in their very dishonour are glorified. They are evil spoken of, and yet are justified; they are reviled, and bless; they are insulted, and repay the insult with honour; they do good, yet are punished as evil-doers. When punished, they rejoice as if quickened into life; they are assailed by the Jews as foreigners, and are persecuted by the Greeks; yet those who hate them are unable to assign any reason for their hatred.

To sum up all in one word-what the soul is in the body, that are Christians in the world. The soul is dispersed through all the members of the body, and Christians are scattered through all the cities of the world. The soul dwells in the body, yet is not of the body; and Christians dwell in the world, yet are not of the world. The invisible soul is guarded by the visible body, and Christians are known indeed to be in the world, but their godliness remains invisible. The flesh hates the soul, and wars against it, though itself suffering no injury, because it is prevented from enjoying pleasures; the world also hates the Christians, though in nowise injured, because they abjure pleasures.

The soul loves the flesh that hates it, and [loves also] the members; Christians likewise love those that hate them. The soul is imprisoned in the body, yet preserves that very body; and Christians are confined in the world as in a prison, and yet they are the preservers of the world. The immortal soul dwells in a mortal tabernacle; and Christians dwell as sojourners in corruptible [bodies], looking for an incorruptible dwelling in the heavens. The soul, when but ill-provided with food and drink, becomes better; in like manner, the Christians, though subjected day by day to punishment, increase the more in number. God has assigned them this illustrious position, which it were unlawful for them to forsake.

2 comments:

Ρωμανός ~ Romanós said...

Excellent! Excellent post quoting from the Epistle to Diognetus! Don't you just love Elpenor? I love the way you can get the original Greek texts of these early Xtian writings at that site!

FOCUS UNSW said...

I just discovered Elpenor yesterday, I couldn't believe it! It's such a precious treasure.