This volume is the first major English-language commentary on the Epistle to Diognetus since that of Henry G. Meecham in 1949. Its purpose is twofold: to provide careful consideration to the essential introductory issues of authorship and setting, structure and integrity, theology, relationship to scripture, and historical trajectory as they apply to the transmission of the text; and to offer commentary focused on the movement of the author's argument and objectives in construction of the narrative, taking advantage of critical considerations of the apology within recent scholarship. In the final analysis the volume arrives at the premise that the core materials of Diognetus were likely delivered first in an oral context whose setting remains unknown and were thereafter recorded by a later hand as the framework of chapters 1-10. A subsequent editor (perhaps Clement of Alexandria) added the concluding materials of chapters 11-12 together with the insertion of numerous hymnic segments and theological phrases throughout chapters 1-10. These additions were inspired by Johannine tradition and reflect the setting of a living faith community. The text of Diognetus thus reflects an evolutionary process that moves from oral performance to literary record, from moral teaching to theological homily. The format of the volume is designed to welcome the non-specialist to the text of Diognetus while exposing the reader to the best of both earlier and more recent critical comments on the writing and its tradition.
Clayton N. Jefford is Professor of Scripture at Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology.
"It has been over 60 years since a critical edition of the Epistle to Diognetus
was published in English. That edition, by Henry Meecham, stood the tests of time well. But with the advent of Oxford University Press' Oxford Apostolic Fathers
series, Clayton N. Jefford has produced a worthy successor... In sum, Jefford's edition has become the essential reference on all things having to do with the Epistle to Diognetus
. Scholars working with it or with texts that may share some intertextual relation with it should take the time to consult and benefit from Jefford's work." --FIDES et HUMILITAS