(Geneve), H. Estienne, 1557. 8vo. Contemp. full vellum. Remains of ties. A crack to upper part of fronthinge. Endpapers renewed, the work seems to be inserted in a contemporary binding. Handwritten title on spine. Titlepage with some browning and soiling and outer margin frayed. Second leaf with browning to right marin. 208 pp. Text in Greek and latin.
Scarce first edition - editio princeps - of the famous "Apologia", the carefully written plea for justice to the Christians made by a philosopher, on philosophical grounds, to the Emperors Marcus Aurelius and his son Commodus, conquerors, "but above all, philosophers".
Athenagoras complains of the illogical and unjust discrimination against the Christians and of the calumnies they suffer, and then meets the charge of atheism. He establishes the principle of monotheism, citing pagan poets and philosophers in support of the very doctrines for which Christians are condemned, and demonstrates the superiority of the Christian belief in God to that of pagans. This first strongly reasoned demonstration of the unity of God in Christian literature is supplemented by an able exposition of the Trinity.
Athenagoras was a Christian apologist of the second half of the second century of whom no more is known than that he was an Athenian philosopher and a convert to Christianity. Of his writings there have been preserved but two genuine pieces his "Apology" or "Embassy for the Christians" and a "Treatise on the Resurrection".
Adams A-2102. - Dibdin I: 186. - Brunet I:537.